Wednesday, January 16, 2008


This article is reproduced with kind permission from Derek John Fernandez, a legal expert on town planning law in Malaysia.

Monday, 07 January 2008 07:04am
Residents lament loss of open space

ON Nov 28, notices appeared in several newspapers informing the public that
draft local plans for parts of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya were available
for comment and objection. The plans cover almost all of Subang Jaya; and
Sections 13; SS2-SS9, SS11, SS20-SS26; Section 18, PJS1, PJS6, PJS9, PJS 10
& SS10 and PJU6-PJU9 (Kota Damansara, Bandar Utama, Mutiara Damansara, etc).
These small advertisements have serious implications on the quality of life
of residents in the affected areas and it is worth taking time and effort to
understand their message to exercise your rights.

The Subang Jaya Municipal Council and the Petaling Jaya City Council have
extended the original Dec 28 deadline for public objections and comments to
Jan 28 after requests by various residents associations (RAs).
The public notice of these draft plans is in accordance with the Town &
Country Planning Act 1976 (TCPA), and represents the government's commitment
to public participation in the planning process and partnership with the
people for sustainable development as contained in Local Agenda 21 and the
Rio Summit on sustainable development.

These draft plans are long overdue and unsustainable development flourished
as a result of a lack of a local plan. Thus, this is the best and biggest
opportunity for the public to prevent unsustainable development and a
deterioration of their quality of life and value of property.

The older areas of Petaling Jaya (Sections 1-14) had enjoyed a relatively
good level of planning by virtue of Rancangan Tempatan Petaling Jaya 1 (RTPJ
1) which came into force on March 13, 2003. During the objection period,
more than 10,000 residents represented by associations and their legal
advisers made substantial representations and objections to the original
draft which was accepted by the authorities. The result is the RTPJ 1 has
strict density control and promotion of sustainable development.
In contrast, Kuala Lumpur does not have a local plan (although one is in the
pipeline) and this has resulted in increasing conflicts between residents
and City Hall. Without a local plan, ad hoc development and the corruption
associated with it thrives.

A local plan is a detailed map and written statement which contains the
proposal for the use and development of land in an area. It covers issues
such as open spaces, densities, intensity of development; environment,
infrastructure and many other matters vital to sustainable development at a
macro level in a way that will directly affect land owners.
These plans are actually prepared to implement macro planning policies set
out in the National Physical Plan, the State Structure Plan and the Regional
Plan (called development plans) all of which have been prepared under the
Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA).

Consider these laws:
» Section 18 of the TCPA prohibits any land use or erection of a building
which is inconsistent with the local plans. Thus, even if land use under the
National Land Code allows a piece of land to be used for commercial purposes
but where the Local Plan zones it as a playground, it can be used for only a
playground. If it was privately-owned, the TCPA provides for land
acquisition to implement the Local Plan.
» Section 19 of the Act prohibits any development without planning approval,
which can be given only if consistent with the Local Plan. In the event of
inconsistency, the Local Plan overrides any building bylaws.
In voicing views and objections, the following points should be considered:
» Purchase the plan (RM100) and read it carefully.
» Pool resources with your RAs and get experts to explain how the plan
affects you and to incorporate your proposals. » Get access to the Selangor
Structure Plan; the National Physical Plan and the Structure Plan for
Petaling Jaya and Parts of Klang.
» Comments and objections must be in writing and request for a hearing to
elaborate on them further.
» Send objections collectively as it carries more weight. Ideally a master
objection document can be drawn up and submitted on behalf of many.
» 'The Devil is in the detail'. Check that the plan is sufficiently detailed
to address your issues with little ambiguity.
» Challenge population assumptions, statistics and projections if they are
unreasonable. If the figures and statistics are wrong, the whole planning
will be wrong.
» Ensure the plan specifies the maximum density for an area, height and
aesthetic control of buildings, plot ratios, setbacks,
road widths and parking spaces, and open spaces (not less than 2ha for 1,000
There must be suitable buffers and open spaces between commercial and
residential areas.
» Ensure air and water quality standards and all federal guidelines on
environment and hillslope development are clearly stated and adopted in the

Remember, once passed and gazetted the Local Plan becomes law. It will be a
great loss if residents do not use this golden opportunity to determine what
they want in their neighbourhood.

The cover of the Petaling Jaya Draft Local Plan sums this up: "Petaling Jaya
Bandaraya Bestari Milik Semua".

No comments: