E&O bullish about Seri Tanjung Pinang project

Developer likely to get go-ahead for phase 2

Eastern & Oriental Bhd’s unit Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd can look forward to getting the go-ahead from the Penang government for its Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP) phase two project if it complies to all the technical and regulatory requirements for the project.

In an interview at the Chief Minister’s office in Komtar recently, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says as long as the developer complies with the conditions and requirements, the state government will grant approval.

Under a concession agreement signed in 1990 by the previous state government and the company awarded the concession to undertake the reclamation and development of the land in Tanjung Tokong in the north-east coast of Penang, there are a number of terms and conditions for the project’s approval.

“If the terms and conditions are fulfilled by the developer, the state government will have to respect the sanctity of the agreement, otherwise it will have to pay compensation to the developer for non-compliance,” Lim says.

On April 10, the Department of Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (DOE) granted a conditional approval for the detailed environmental impact assessment study and conceptual masterplan for the proposed STP phase two.

The proposed reclamation for STP phase two involves 760 acres of man-made islands and 131 acres of the Gurney Drive foreshore that will be handed over to the state government for infrastructure development of a new expressway, a new Gurney Drive Promenade and a parallel linear park for public recreational purposes.

Given that the state’s approval is still pending and the tender process yet to commence, analysts say the proposed reclamation work for the 891 acres of the STP phase two is expected to begin only early next year.

Reclamation works are expected to take two years and the first launch assumed to commence towards the end of the reclamation works, possibly in the second half of 2016.

Responding to queries from StarBizWeek, E&O managing director Datuk Terry Tham says E&O is now proceeding to make the necessary applications as required by the relevant authorities in respect of the proposed STP phase two development plans.

Tham gave the assurance that E&O will continue to give full compliance to all regulatory requirements, as it has done with the first phase of STP.

“Going forward, E&O is fulfilling its rights and obligations as set out in the concession agreement for the reclamation of STP phase two.

“The proposed STP phase two is of significant size, hence the conditions set out by the DOE are to ensure that the project is carried out in an environmentally responsible manner, consistent with the prevailing regulatory framework,” Tham points out.

The DEIA approval is conditional upon the following terms:

- It is applicable only to the proposed reclamation of 760 acres of man-made islands and 131 acres of the Gurney Drive foreshore, and dredging activities at the “flushing channel”;

- The provisions of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974, must always be complied with;

- The proposed STP phase two must be in line with the project concept stated in the DEIA and is subject to the approval of separate environmental impact assessments by DOE for activities prescribed under the Environmental Quality Order (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) 1987;

- The necessary approvals from the state government and relevant government departments must be obtained before the proposed STP phase two is implemented;

- The DEIA approval conditions and recommendations of the DEIA consultant must be incorporated as conditions of tender documents and contractual agreements, to be fulfilled by any contractor/subcontractor involved in the implementation of the proposed STP phase two;

- The DEIA conditional approval is valid for two years from the date of issuance; and

- All works to be undertaken in the proposed STP phase two must further comply with specific work-related requirements and specifications as set out, including reporting obligations under the relevant laws and regulations.

New lease of life

Tham says that in addition to the 60 acres on STP phase two that will be reclaimed and surrendered to the state government, E&O is also reclaiming 131 acres along Gurney Drive to be handed over to the state.

“This land is for the state government to use for the benefit of the people of Penang. A linear park along Gurney Drive has been proposed as part of the 131 acres,” he says.

E&O is not the first developer involved in the reclamation and development of the land.

The project’s history can be traced back to 1980’s, when it started off as a joint venture between Permaijana Ribu (M) Sdn Bhd (owned by UEM Bhd, Penang Bumiputera Foundation and Magma Bhd) and Koperasi Gabungan Negeri Pulau Pinang and Penang Development Corp.

The original project proponent faced a challenging start and reclamation works were twice abandoned due largely to the Asian financial crisis.

In 1992, Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd was granted the concession to undertake the project. The reclamation of Seri Tanjung Pinang phase 1 commenced in 1997 (not by E&O). Within the same year, works were suspended due to the Asian financial crisis. In 1999, reclamation resumed only to halt again in 2000. The project was left idle for the next three years.

E&O came on board in 2003 to revive the existing but abandoned project, and Tanjung Pinang Development became a subsidiary of E&O. The project is now known as the masterplanned seafront development Seri Tanjung Pinang by E&O.

Reclamation for STP phase one comprising 239 acres was completed in 2005, and within the same year the first homes were launched. To-date, about 2,500 housing units have been completed at Seri Tanjung Pinang worth an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM4bil.

In 2011, the Penang government granted in-principal approval to reclaim the proposed STP phase two. The second phase is expected to generate some RM25bil in GDV.

The project had been incorporated as part of the National Physical Plan 2007-2020 as well as the Penang State Structure Plan 2020.

During the interview with the Chief Minister on Penang’s development, Lim gave the assurance that the state government will ensure a holistic and balanced development model for the state, and one that is not too commercial.

“For example, we will preserve landmark historical and heritage sites, like the Penang Esplanade, and will not allow the development of this landmark historical site for commercial purposes,” Lim says.

The founder of Penang, Captain Francis Light, a former Royal Navy midshipman and trader, who founded Penang in 1786, had landed on a point somewhere at the Esplanade. The Esplanade, which can be regarded as the growth centre from which Georgetown developed and expanded, is today an important venue for many of Penang’s important events, including the Merdeka Parade on August 31.

The state’s efforts to preserve the heritage, cultural and historical sites will be in line with the 2008 inscription of the inner city of Georgetown as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

With the right concerted efforts between the state and industry players to ensure a proper balance between the built and unbuilt environment for Penang, and an integration of the old world charms with new neighbourhoods like Seri Tanjung Pinang, Penang will be assured of a place among the handful of well-regarded liveable international cities of the world. - By Angie Ng (StarProperty)

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