Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Cove Press Release – Copthorne Redevelopment 29th November 2016

Perbadanan Pengurusan Cove (PTG/PB/STRATA/SPP/63)
Pejabat Pengurusan
521C-1-1, Jalan Tanjong Bungah, The Cove
11200 Pulau Pinang
Tel: 04-8990799 Fax: 04-8990799
Email: thecove.management@gmail.com

Tanjung Bungah is a low density residential area known for its natural beauty and serene coastline. The Cove Condominium is a low density residential development of 144 units built on around 5.5 acres. This equates to a density of 26 units per acre. The area surrounding the Cove is primarily a low density residential area made up predominantly of single / double storey residential homes. Some medium height buildings exist but they form the exception and minority.

The Copthorne Hotel situated in the heart of Tanjung Bungah is a 20‐storey building with a number of residential bungalows nestled directly adjacent on one side and the Cove on the other.

A mere 5.8m separates the walls of the Copthorne from the carpark walls of the Cove and 25 meters from its bedroom windows. On the other side, a few meters are the only separation between the Copthorne and the residential bungalows.

                            A TRAVESTY IN THE MAKING

The proposed redevelopment of the Copthorne will include a 60‐storey mixed development which includes 217 apartments and 420 hotel rooms on a 2.5‐acre site zoned for tourism.

Setting aside technicalities, if planning permission is granted this would without a doubtset a terrifying precedent for the future of Tanjug Bungah and the entire island.

The site is zoned for Tourism and the planning application describes a 60‐storey building however the actual height is commensurate with 63.5 stories. A building of this size, height and make up being a mixed development of residential units and hotel would be a first of its kind ever built on a site zoned for Tourism. Does this fit in the midst of a low density residential area?

The proposed site is within extreme proximity to residential buildings and Dalat International School with it dormitories and the Montessori kindergarten. The proposed demolition and redevelopment will presentsignificantsafety and health risksto them and their properties and will result in significant disruption and degradation of their quality of life.

It would be prudent to balance the wellbeing of the existing community, retaining the charm and character of the area against the push to maximise profits of developers who will depart with their bounty without a care for the lasting consequences inflicted on Tanjung Bungah, and Penang.

The Cove, One Tanjung and the site to be redeveloped will share a small service road coming off of a busy main road. Has a Traffic Impact Assessment been conducted? It is our understanding that the area is already under category “E”‐ the impact of an additional development of this size could be disastrous. Already there has been several pedestrian and children’s deathsin recent years attributed to poor pedestrian traffic safety facilities.

Recently the Cove and the surrounding area have suffered several power outages. The new development will result in a significant increase in demand. A recent meeting with Engineers indicted that the sewage capacity and connection points in the neighbouring area are insufficient to handle the currentsewage volume from One Tanjung and The Cove. We have concernsthe new development will only add to the problem and increase undesirable smells and pollution which will dramatically impact the neighbourhood.

The Cove residents are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect their rights for quite enjoyment and indeed retaining the charm and character of Tanjung Bungah. Esteemed members of the press we would like to share with you the wider issues which directly impact our community and which in our humble opinion can spell disaster for our community and our beautiful island.

Let us stress that we are supportive and in favour of the continued development and growth of our economy. We stand here as conscientious members of the community offering a constructive objection.

The long‐term growth of Penang can only be sustained through the continued flow of investment. It is therefore crucial that we are mindful as to the reasons why Penang in the first place attracted past investment.

To sustain growth and continued investment the economy needs to churn, people have to live and spend and they must want to do this in Penang rather than anywhere else.

The best kind of investor is that who not only places his money in our market but who roots himself and his family among us and becomes a long‐term participant in our community and economy.

The real estate investment which has been fuelling our economy is almost split equally between foreign and local money. The only way to sustain this is to give investors the feeling of security and that they have the opportunity to gain a fair return on their investment and in the very least that they will enjoy the right of quiet possession.

Allow me to offer to you The Cove as a typical example of such dynamics at work.

  • Looking at ownership / Investment: There are 144 units at The Cove, 71 are owned by foreigners and 73 by locals
  • Looking at Residency: 94 unites are occupied by foreigners compared to 50 by locals.

Many of us at The Cove are a testament to this dynamic. We have invested in this beautiful corner of the world and moved with our families to live in Penang. Believing in Penang we acted as ambassadors singing its praise and convincing other high net worth friends to follow suite and invest in Penang.

As a result of the One Tanjung development which took place from 2012 to 2016 the entire community at The Cove suffered erosion to the value of their investment as our views were blocked from the frontand the Western side. Potential tenants kept away as a result of the continuous noise and pollution while some of existing ones relocated.

The quality of life for everyone at The Cove suffered thanks to the tremendous noise as construction work continued from 8 am and well into the night, sometimes as late as 3 am. This through weekends and public holidays. Sleep became scares and dust pollution kept us prisoners in our homes unable to open windows or enjoy our balconies. Children were unable to enjoy the gardens and the pool and the poor management of water at the construction site increased dengue risk impacting our health. The developer allowed workers to live in the uncompleted building as it was being constructed which resulted in a ghetto environment with foreign workers bathing and urinating in public view outraging our modesty. The developer did not use safety netting and we had all sorts of debris, metal sidings and wooden planks land right onto our grounds threatening fatal injury to residents.

This chaos was between 60 and over 100 meters away from the front of our residential towers. If this proposal is approved, we will have this all over again but this time a mere 25 meters from all of our bedroom windows and 5.8 meters from our carparks and tennis courts.

Having suffered 4 years as a result of the One Tanjung Project is it reasonable to expect residents and investors to suffer another 4 years for the proposed Copthorne development?

Is this what one should expect in return for investing in Penang? 8 years is a long time .. how many people can or would tolerate this? How many would search for greener fields and pass on their experience to others? Can this be beneficial to community or our economy?

In short, the conclusion to be derived taking The Cove as a case in point is that all the 71 foreign and 73 local investors are being denied their basic right of quiet possession and enjoyment. Their investments face continued erosion and the structural integrity of our homes may be threatened.

Should the Copthorne redevelopment be allowed as currently proposed it would be a travesty setting a dangerous precedent which will send a clear warning to existing investors along with anyone looking at Penang for potential investment.

Our real estate market and economy is already in a doldrum; without predictable sympathetic long term planning, without guaranteeing the simple right of quiet enjoyment and reasonable return what chance do we have for sustained growth. It is our contention that without such basic fundamental criterion protected, it will be impossible to sustain investment or retain capital inflows. As inevitably smart money will go elsewhere.

Recent history suggests that there is no safe haven in Penang as developers continue to enrich themselves at the cost of our community while destroying the very character and sole of this beautiful island ‐this has to stop. Our state and planning department must protect us from this rampage.

What about our skyline?? What do we want to it to look like in 20 years? A mangled wall of buildings? Should a mixed development of this size be allowed in the heart of a residential zone? How can we adequately provision for infrastructure and services if we allow such haphazard development?

We reiterate our appreciation for the tremendous effort and significant improvements made by our local and state government which has resulted in Penang being one of the most desirable locations in Malaysia for foreign investment and indeed for families to set up home. We understand and support the continued development of our Island as a means of accelerating growth and strengthening our economy. In this spirit, we submit our objection as a constructive effort to support the continued wellbeing of Penang.

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