THE Sea Park neighbourhood in Petaling Jaya has many old-timers, like Gan Keng, who moved here in the mid-1960s.
Just like him, many others have been living here since then, with some setting up family businesses in the area.
Gan, 76, who is Section 21 Rukun Tetangga (RT) chairman, said that before he bought his house, he was told that a football field, swimming pool and cinema would be part of the facilities in the neighbourhood.
However, he said only the cinema was built.
“Over time, even the cinema closed down. Now there are plans for redevelopment of the area, with a condominium comprising 400 units to be built.
“We are unhappy about that news, ” he said.
Gan, who was speaking on behalf of residents and shopowners, said the project would add to traffic congestion and worsen parking problem in the area.
“We have seen the impact of such developments in other old neighbourhoods and we are worried.
“Ultimately, we are the ones whose quality of life will be affected.
“Developers will promise now that the project will not impact us adversely and that they will ensure ample parking bays but somehow, it won’t become a reality.
“The condominium unit owners will likely have to pay for extra parking bays. So, some will just park outside, in the commercial area, to avoid paying.
“We can foresee the problems that will arise, ” said Gan.
“In the morning, especially on weekends, many customers come to the shops here and if finding parking space is difficult, they may just stay away.
“This will affect business. Shopowners will lose customers without parking facilities for them, ” he said.
“As it is, the morning traffic in the neighbourhood is quite heavy, affecting school-going children.
“There are schools nearby but despite this, some have to leave very early to avoid getting stuck in traffic and get to school on time.
“This is the situation for residents who go to work as well. All have to leave early, so imagine if there is more traffic congestion in our area.
“We just cannot afford to have any development that will make matters worse, ” Gan reiterated.
He said residents were also disappointed they were not included in the public hearings by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) for the condominium project.
“The development site is walking distance from the shops.
“The business community should have been invited to these meetings to give their input, ” said Gan.
He said the land was a commercial zone and if the development was for more business lots, they would not have minded but not a high-density residential project.
When contacted, Damansara MCA division chief Tan Gim Tuan said: “It must be noted that under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, compliance with development guidelines does not mean automatic approval.
“The law requires that residents’ interest are taken into consideration.
“This is the responsibility of the authorities, the elected representatives and their appointed councillors.”
Tan said that any approval for projects in sensitive areas such as this must take into consideration the resident’s interests first.
“It is high time for MBPJ to issue a written reply to all queries submitted by the residents and shopowners.
“The council has advocated sustainable development and must live up to this, ” he said.
“Any new large-scale development will affect areas beyond Sea Park, including SS2, Section 22, SS1, SS3 and all the way to Damansara Jaya and Bandar Utama.
“The site for the condominium is zoned as a commercial area. This was confirmed by MBPJ at the first public hearing, so the council should not approve any residential development there, ” said Tan.
“The original plan for the area does not include any high-rise or high-density projects.
“But the council has approved a 400-unit condominium in a limited commercial zone, ” he said.
MBPJ councillor Farhan Haziq Mohamed said that although it was a commercial zone, serviced apartments were allowed under the commercial category, based on the Petaling Jaya Local Plan.
He said the project was given planning approval on March 11 this year, after two public hearings.
“This development is on 0.9ha of land. The developer initially applied for 3.89 plot ratio but we reduced it to 3.66.
“Initially, I too objected to the project.
“The council looked into traffic impact, development impact and social impact studies and reports presented before making a decision, ” said Farhan.
He said initially there were plans to build shops near the residential area but this was not approved.
He noted that the condominium project had been scaled down before being approved.
“There is no underground parking facilities now as it was feared construction works will damage existing properties.
“This land was gazetted as commercial in 2003 under the Petaling Jaya Local Plan One.
“The council has to consider the landowner’s right to develop the land too, ” he added.