Only 32 residential areas in Petaling Jaya have registered their “guarded community” schemes with the local authority despite the Federal Court ruling on March 25 that boom gates and guardhouses were legal structures for security purposes.
A check with the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Engineering Department revealed that there are 181 areas recorded as having set up guarded communities.
“However, not all have registered with the council,” said a source from the department, who added that there was a slight increase compared to 2013, when only 18 areas had registered.
The spokesman added that there were seven applications which are in the midst of being processed.
However, those registered with the council were given conditional approvals, such as having to place the guardhouses by road shoulders, and required to obtain temporary occupation licences for their structures from the local land office, said the spokesman.
Interestingly, a majority of the newer schemes were approved in November 2013 and May 2014’s full board meetings after the city council tore down illegal obstructions at three housing areas.
The Federal Court ruling was on a case brought by Au Kean Hoe against the D’Villa Equestrian Residents Association in Kota Damansara for installing a guardhouse and two boom gates in the housing estate.
Au claimed that the structures were illegal, a nuisance, an obstruction and ought to be demolished.
A five-member panel, chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin had ruled that placing boom gates across public roads and guardhouses in residential areas was legal and that regulated access to a defined area was not an obstruction in law, particularly if it was for security reasons.
Justice Zulkefli had said guardhouses and boom gates were authorised structures under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976; the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974; and the Local Government Act 1976.
Town Planning legal expert Derek Fernandez said the ruling also made it clear that it was illegal for areas with such schemes not to register with the local authority.
“The ruling upholds the council’s authority for issuing its guidelines, and also cites Section 101(v) of the Local Government Act 1976, empowering the council to improve public safety and security in residential areas,” said Fernandez.
However, Fernandez hoped the council would move to amend the guidelines, so as not to inconvenience non-participating residents.
MBPJ councillor Lee Suet Sen, who headed the council’s Bandar Selamat Committee, said it was up to the council’s Planning Department to lead inspections and ensure the new areas’ applications were in line with council guidelines.
“We are having the committee meeting tomorrow, and if they meet our guidelines, we will pass the new areas up to be approved at the upcoming full board meeting,” said Lee.