Group wants review of Penang Turf Club site re-zoning

The Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) campaign group wants the state government to review the re-zoning of the Penang Turf Club (PTC) site in the Penang draft structure plan which was finalised and gazetted in June 2007.

PGCC campaign group coordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said the re-zoning from recreational/open space to mixed development was gazetted despite objections from various groups.

“When the draft structure plan went on display, we wrote in, raising our objections on the re-zoning. No justification was given for the re-zoning and despite our objections, all we received was an acknowledgement for raising the issue, but nothing else was done.

“What is the point of holding a public hearing when in the end, the views expressed are ignored? They followed the legal requirements to hold the hearing but did not follow through in the spirit of the law as they did not consider public opinion very seriously,” Choong told The Edge Financial Daily.

He was responding to former state local government committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan’s statement that the formulation of the structure plan, which made provisions on zoning of development for the whole state, followed the proper provisions and procedure for structure plan under the Town and Country Planning Act.

He also maintained that public exhibitions and hearings were held in 2006- 2007 on the draft structure plan which was finalised and gazetted in June 2007.

Choong said the state government could consider two options. “The state government can revert the land back to recreational, open space or the second option would be to have a local plan for the area.”

“The local plan can specify what development can be carried out. Part of the land can also be developed while a portion of it should also be reserved for public use,” Choong added.

He also called on former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to explain the rationale for the re-zoning.

“The government can get away with many things if we do not question them; we did our part but were ignored. There is evidence that the previous state government had abused its powers to make changes to benefit certain parties and amendments can be made on this basis even after it is gazetted.

“This decision was made in bad faith and it is a justifiable reason for the present administration to reverse it,” Choong added.

He said there were provisions under the Town and Country Planning Act which allowed this to be done.

The fate of the PGCC project has hogged the limelight the past two months after the opposition wrested control of Penang in the March 8 general election.

The planning permission for the PGCC developer has yet to be approved by the Penang Island Municipal Council while the developer has yet to submit the rescaled development proposal for the project.

The motive of the previous state government to convert the PTC land has also been questioned by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Lim has also asked Koh and Teng to explain why the land was re-zoned and how it would benefit the public. Koh could not be reached for comment. - By The Edge Daily

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