Clash over redevelopment consent

Forum attendees at the public engagement session of the Urban Redevelopment Act which is set to be tabled in Parliament late this year.

THE number of owners required to agree to redevelopment under the proposed Urban Redevelopment Act was a matter of heated contention during a forum.

According to the Town and Country Planning Department (PLANMalaysia), the percentage of consent for projects earmarked for redevelopment varies.

Its Planning, Legislation and Regulation director Zamirzan Puji said the percentage might be set at 80% for buildings less than 30 years old, 75% for older buildings and 51% for buidings deemed as unsafe or abandoned.

Zamirzan said the Act, which is set to be tabled in Parliament later this year, was aimed at regenerating old and abandoned buildings.

The forum was organised by Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and held at the Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba Complex in Jalan Kuchai Lama.

Zamirzan explaining the intricacies of the proposed Act at the forum.Zamirzan explaining the intricacies of the proposed Act at the forum.

“Over time as tenants move out, these buildings will become eyesores. We can see this happening in Penang, Johor and Kuala Lumpur.

“If nothing is done, the buildings continue to dilapidate, bringing down the value of the surrounding infrastructure,” said Zamirzan.

He said that for this purpose, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had identified 139 sites as redevelopment areas in Kuala Lumpur.

He mentioned 1Razak Mansion as a case in point of a success story where the developer had managed to get a 100% consent from property owners.

Built in 1963, the 657-unit Razak Mansion – each measuring 504sq ft – was redeveloped in 2017 with the same number of units, but each expanded to 800sq ft plus 24 shophouses, 110 market lots and a surau.

National House Buyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary general Datuk Chang Kim Loong said the proposed consent threshold would be disadvantageous to those who did not want to move.

“HBA strongly opposes any setting of a consent threshold. Any redevelopment project must have 100% approval from the owners.

“Our stand is any rejuvenation or renewal plan must have the consent of all because every owner is important,” said Chang.

He said the property owners’ right to refuse should not be taken away by enacting a redevelopment law in favour of developers.

“We should never copy countries like Singapore or Hong Kong which have set a 90% consent threshold for redevelopment projects, as these countries have limited land resources.

“We can anticipate scenarios where 100% owners’ approval is no longer needed,” he added.

Chang also queried if Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) was willing to underwrite projects where original owners were promised units in exchange for their properties.

“What if the redevelopment project becomes a sick one? What guarantee does the original owner have?” he asked.

Another forum attendee, Siti Nurah Haron said that instead of coming up with a new Act, the ministry should focus on solutions for the abandoned housing projects which had left many buyers in the lurch.

Jeffrey Phang, 68, who is a member of a non-governmental (NGO) that empowers grassroot leaders, said that instead of introducing the concept of urban renewal, Housing ministry should come up with better coordination strategies and programmes to ensure that joint management bodies and management corporations of strata properties are able to function more effectively.

Zamirzan assured the forum attendees that conditions proposed under the Act had yet to be finalised.

“We will have to go through an intensive process before it is approved,” he said.

On the percentage of owners’ approval, especially where critical redevelopment projects would be involved, Zamirzan said the government would lawfully continue with the land acquisition process to ensure it could be executed even if there was no 100% approval from owners.

He said that for redevelopments involving abandoned or sick projects, buyers who only have sales and purchase agreements but have yet to receive their strata titles will be given consideration under this proposed Act.

“On redevelopment projects that end up as sick or abandoned, KPKT will ensure that only the most competent developers will be chosen for the task,” said Zamirzan.

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Urban Renewal Act , protest.


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