Penang set to embark on urban regeneration projects

The Penang state Urban Regeneration Committee will hold its first meeting at the Penang Development Corporation on December 7, says its chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo, reports The Malaysian Insider.

The committee will look into regenerating decades-old public housing schemes in Penang at Rifle Range, Taman Free School, Taman Tun Sardon and Mak Mandin.

“As the units at the flats have owners, we have to study the legality of what we are trying to do. We have to iron out all kinks. Then, we have to educate the people and raise awareness. We have help them understand and see what is in store for them in this initiative,” he said.

The regeneration plan includes replacing old, low-rise blocks of flats, which are becoming costly to maintain, with new, taller and better-equipped flats.

“Some of the old (current) schemes are only five storeys high. If we replace them with new blocks of 15 or 20-storey flats, we can provide homes to more than 1,000 extra families. This is why this programme is so important,” said Deo.

He said the state government may consider building new blocks on available land, relocate a section of the residents in the neighbourhood to the new units, and demolish the old, vacant flats to make way for new blocks.

“We plan to build new flats and to equip them with proper facilities. Due to the population in those schemes also ageing, we will look into introducing the wellness concept to their living conditions too.

“This will include features like hand rails and panic buttons,” he said.

Jagdeep said the state would make a request for proposals to appoint the developers that can give the state the best deal to redevelop and rejuvenate the old neighbourhoods.

He admitted that a genuine urban regeneration project that benefited a large section of the public would be challenging to implement, but Penang would be the first state to attempt such an initiative.

He added that other countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan had been successful in regenerating old housing schemes. - By Looi Sue-Chern / The Malaysian Insider

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