KOTA KINABALU: A shelved multi-storey complex adjacent to the city’s 112-year-old Atkinson Clock Tower is back on the cards.
Kota Kinabalu City Hall shelved the project six years ago amid public protest that saw heritage activists taking it to court.
Save Open Space coordinator Jefferi Chang said it was disappointing that the state government and City Hall had decided to go ahead with the project close to the clock tower and the historic Padang Merdeka.
He said they were surprised by the decision to approve a new plan for the 18-storey multi-purpose building near the tower that was built in 1905 by Briton Mary Edith Atkinson in memory of her son Francis George, who died of malaria while serving in the colonial government.
Following the court action and public concerns, the project was shelved.
“We hope the City Hall can justify its decision which has bypassed the central board evaluation of the fragile heritage site,” Chang said, adding that the approval which was done without public consultation was “questionable”.
He said City Hall should consider the evaluation of the site as the soil structure was weak and that a minor landslide in 2013 brought fears that the clock tower might collapse.
“The proposed building and construction work will also affect the natural greenery around Signal Hill which gives not only a calming effect for city folks but is also a home to many animals,” he said.
Chang pointed out that the project could significantly affect the attraction value of the clock tower.
He also said it was among the very few wooden structured clock towers left in the world.
It remains a popular site for tourists, as well as Malaysians who enjoy the spacious natural greenery along the hill slopes.