IT IS good that the governing authorities are being pro-active in encouraging developers, building owners and service providers to adhere to the regulations set to meet universal design standards.
However, the Persons with Disabilities Act (685) and the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 do not state the penalty for those who do not meet these universal standards.
The ultimate objective of universal design standards is for everyone to enjoy the same experience regardless of their physical capabilities or age.
Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Development Planning Department director Sharipah Marhani Syed Ali said currently there were no amendments made to laws regarding building architecture that would empower local councils to carry out enforcement against those who did not meet these standards.
“There is no law for the council to fine or impose penalty on those who do not meet the universal design standards. To address this issue, MBPJ has now set up a universal design unit which requires all developers to show their building plans that must comply with the design standards before the project is approved for development. They must fill up the universal design form from this unit.
“This step is required before the application even goes to the One-Stop Centre for the council to evaluate the project proposal.
“We want to be strict about it because this seems to be the only way we can ensure the design standards are met.
“The project will not get an approval if it does not comply with the universal standards. We will monitor thoroughly and the final call will be for the council to not give the certificate of compliance and competency (CCC) if the developer does not implement all the proposed features. Failing to get the CCC will be undesirable for any development,” said Sharipah.
She was among the speakers at the 5th International Conference on Universal Design In The Built Environment 2017 (ICUDBE2017).
Among the countries that have enforcement capabilities for projects that do not meet the universal design standards are Singapore, Ireland and Australia.
During her presentation, Sharipah cited several other examples of how MBPJ planned to move forward and ensure universal designs would be met.
She said the council would improve the commitment of developers, building owners and contractors during the implementation process.
The council is in the midst of preparing the Universal Design Master Plan 2030 based on the UK National benchmark as well as those from Scandinavian countries.
MBPJ was awarded the Most Caring City Council 2017 by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry in conjunction with National Welfare Month in October, for all the measures taken to make the city accessible for the disabled and elderly.
In 2012, the council was among the finalists for Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management -- Barrier-Free City: Lifting The Urban Disability Stigma.