Apex court quashes planning permission for housing development on Penang hillslope

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court here has overturned the approval given to a property developer 11 years ago for a housing project on a hillslope in Penang.

A three-judge panel, chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, unanimously restored a decision by the Penang Appeal Board in setting aside the planning permission given to Sunway City by Penang Island City Council (MBPP) in 2012.

Other judges on the bench were Justices P. Nallini and Rhodzariah Bujang.

"We conclude that the local authority’s approval of Sunway’s application for planning permission is ultra vires and void.

"The High Court and Court of Appeal erred in law in upholding the decision of the local authority to grant planning approval," said Justice Nallini, who read out the decision here on Friday (Jan 20).

The apex court also ordered Sunway City and MBPP to pay RM300,000 in costs to the residents.

The Federal Court decision ended an eight-year legal battle by the residents of Sunrise Garden Condominium, who opposed the development of the land into a gated and guarded housing scheme, which was approved by MBPP in February 2012.

The 32.7ha site is within the Sungai Ara area at an elevation of more than 76m above sea level and a gradient exceeding 25 degrees.

The residents appealed to the Penang Appeal Board against the granting of the planning permission by MBPP and in Jan 2016, the Appeal Board set aside the planning permission granted to Sunway City.

Sunway City, however, filed a judicial review at the Penang High Court.

It named the Penang Appeal Board, MBPP and the residents as respondents in its judicial review.

In the judicial review, the developer sought, among others, to quash the Penang Appeal Board's decision and a declaration to maintain the planning permission granted to it by MBPP.

On May 29, 2017, the High Court allowed Sunway City's judicial review and quashed the decision of the Penang Appeal Board.

The residents appealed the High Court's decision and on May 7, 2021, they lost the appeal when a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal affirmed the High Court's findings and decision.

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