Penang backbencher wants end to rigid structural and local planning

Wong said the state needs to prioritise the review of its structure plan before it goes on to examine the local plan. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Wong said the state needs to prioritise the review of its structure plan before it goes on to examine the local plan. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, May 14 ― Penang's structure and local plan must be reviewed in order to provide a holistic approach to the state's development, a backbencher suggested at the state legislative assembly today.

Wong Hon Wai (DAP ― Air Itam) said the state needs to prioritise the review of its structure plan before it goes on to examine the local plan.

"We have to spend time to look at the macro view before we go into details of the micro view," he said during his debate of the Penang Governor's speech today.

He said it is time that the state emulates the trends of other countries when it comes to planning law.

As an example, he said the United Kingdom abolished the use of structure and local plans in 2004 and replaced these with the regional spatial strategies and local development documents.

Nearer to Malaysia, Wong said Singapore used a concept plan — a broad long-term conceptual plan without any details on zoning or plot ratios — that is  reviewed every 10 years.

Wong said Penang must be clear in its planning framework and be aware that centrally-planned cities were detrimental.

"Centrally planned cities like Brazil and Putrajaya are examples of uniform and sterile cities that are unattractive," he said.

Calling for the state's planning processes be more realistic and flexible,  he pointed out that the popular wall murals within the heritage zone here were not in the structure plan despite their attraction.

"This is why Penang's planning processes must be adaptable to respond to the complexities of urban living," he said.

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