CONCERNED over the rapid changes within their Ampang Jaya neighbourhoods, several communities have come together to initiate a grouping called the Ampang Jaya (AJ) Rimba Collective to ensure sustainable future developments.
One of the group’s first priorities is to empower residents to participate in the ongoing process for the draft Ampang Jaya Municipal Council Local Plan 2035 (RT MPAJ).
Its coordinator Noina Baharuddin said it was important for residents to be informed and involved in the town planning process.
“In the past five years in particular, we have seen huge development projects coming up and most times, it is too late when we highlight our concerns.
“But now, we hope to bring residents’ attention to the type of developments that are being proposed in Ampang Jaya for the next 15 years and that we have a say, ” she said.
Fellow coordinator Dzaeman Dzulkifli said this would allow the community to provide input and suggestions before the draft plan was presented and gazetted.
“In speaking with other neighbourhoods, we realised that we shared very similar concerns but lacked coordination to take the effort further.
“Coming together as a community would allow us to better understand the changes that are taking place and being constructive in our feedback, ” he said, adding that group members were individuals with specific expertise and experience in urban planning and environmental conservation.
Some of the neighbourhoods that are part of the collective are Ukay Heights, Bukit Antarabangsa, Ukay Perdana, Taman Melawati and Kemensah.
Noina said the group got together informally in early 2020 after several residents noticed a potential reclassification of 1,112.9ha of two permanent forest reserves in Ampang.
A group of concerned citizens, who discovered the anomaly, said the change was reflected in the I-Plan integrated land use system, but they had not been aware of any degazettement process or public announcement.
Stakeholders and residents’ efforts to obtain information on the issue from the authorities and other agencies had not been easy.
The reclassification was eventually found to be a technical mistake and subsequently rectified by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) and the Federal Department of Town and Country Planning.
“The experience taught us that we need to be more involved in civic engagement with our local administrations, ” she said.
With this in mind, the group recently launched its ajrimba.org website to educate residents on the changes being planned.
The site also allows stakeholders to put forth suggestions and solutions on local planning matters directly to MPAJ.
Additionally, it features short films of Ampang Jaya residents and their aspirations for the municipality.
Dzaeman added that the group focused its efforts on three main pillars – community, forest and outreach.
“We have an abundance of natural treasures that has been jeopardised and we want to engage with stakeholders to protect what is left, ” he said.
In June last year, MPAJ announced it would start a study on a new local plan and residents were invited to give their feedback.
The new RT MPAJ 2035 would replace the RT MPAJ 2020, which was gazetted in 2011 and went through two amendments — in 2013 and 2016.
The then council president Datuk Abdul Hamid Hussain said RM700,000 would be allocated to hire consultants and finance the cost of producing the plan.
He hoped to have the plan ready by July 2021, and publish a draft to get the public’s input.
The study, he said, would include discussions about land use, infrastructure, transportation, environmental conservation and tourism.
Some of the proposed changes include increasing the density from 60 to 80 people per 0.4ha for residential projects similar to Rumah Selangorku, as well as redevelopment projects.
Other proposals being looked into include rezoning residential lots in traditional villages into commercial lots in areas such as Kampung Baru Ampang, Kampung Pandan Dalam and Kampung Tasek Permai.