GEORGE TOWN: A non-governmental organisation has urged the Penang government to reveal its plans for the colonial-era Richmond bungalow on Penang Hill.
Penang Citizen Awareness Chant Group (Chant) adviser Yan Lee said he received information that plans were afoot to turn the bungalow grounds of 1.82ha (4.5 acres) into a site for 12 new bungalows.
“Has the Richmond bungalow on Penang Hill, owned by the state, been transferred to the Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) for development? Is a private developer planning to develop the land?
“Please hold a public consultation to share with the people what the state’s plans are,” he said.
The matter was also posted on the NGO’s Facebook page on Tuesday.
When contacted, Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager L.L. Cheok said the Richmond bungalow was not under the purview of the corporation.
“PHC has no knowledge of the plans for the bungalow.
“Yes, we may be under the Penang government but our role leans towards the maintenance of the hill, funicular railway services, public infrastructure and facilities atop the hill at the moment,” he said.
According to Penang history blogger Timothy Tye in his Penang Travel Tips website, Richmond was once under the care of the then Penang Island Municipal Council and was built in the 1800s.
The bungalow could be rented by the public for just RM6 per night.
It came with three furnished rooms and a fully-equipped kitchen, Tye added.
State Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo could not be reached for comment.
It was reported in June 2016 that Crag Hotel and the surrounding colonial bungalows — Richmond, Edgcumbe, Lomonds and Ban Hin Lee — were slated for redevelopment under the Penang Hill Special Area Plan (SAP), gazetted in Aug, 2016.
The SAP specifies that the 9ha on which the bungalows sit will be an area of “low density boutique hotels and villas of exceptionally high quality”.
The plan allows for only an estimated 50 ultra-posh rooms to be built here, 830m above sea level, with a maximum development area of just 25% of the zoned land to preserve the hill’s lushness.