10,000-unit PR1MA flats too much for Balik Pulau, Penang BN rep says

The land earmarked for PR1MA's proposed 9,904 units in 29 blocks of flats at Kuala Sungai Pinang at Balik Pulau, Penang April 19, 2016. ― Picture by KE Ooi
The land earmarked for PR1MA's proposed 9,904 units in 29 blocks of flats at Kuala Sungai Pinang at Balik Pulau, Penang April 19, 2016. ― Picture by KE Ooi

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GEORGE TOWN, April 19 ― The federal government’s plan to build high-rise flats totalling 9,904 units in Balik Pulau to address the shortage of affordable housing in land-strapped Penang is unsuitable for the small town, Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhamad Farid Saad asserted today.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmaker said the project, consisting of 29 blocks of flats, is too massive for the small township and needs to be scaled back.

“This project should be scrapped and replaced with a low density and low rise project because such a massive high rise project is not suitable for this small town,” he told a press conference at his service center in Balik Pulau.

He pointed out that many residents who moved to Balik Pulau wanted to enjoy the greenery, fresh air and low density.

“The people here do not want such a massive project in their midst and I do not see a demand for so many units to be built here even in the next 10 years,” he said.

He said Balik Pulau currently has a population of about 41,168 people, not including Teluk Bahang, Teluk Kumbar and Bayan Lepas.

“If this PR1MA project is completed in five years time, the number of residents will increase by one fold because the proposed total units would mean an increase of up to 40,000 residents here,” he said.

He said the addition of so many people in such a small village and town will only negatively affect the whole township.

“Has PR1MA taken into account the social, economic, environmental and geopolitical effects of this project?” he asked.

The proposed affordable housing project by the federal government-owned PR1MA Corporation covers 207 acres of land in Sungai Pinang in Balik Pulau.

It has 25 blocks of 27-storey apartments and four blocks of 23-storey apartments with a total 9,904 units.

In its application for planning permission, it stated that 3,168 units will be sold between RM467,000 and RM510,000 while 6,736 units will be sold between RM190,000 and RM290,000 per unit.

Muhammad Farid also objected to the units that will be sold above RM400,000 per unit.

“This is highly unaffordable especially for people of Balik Pulau and most of them can't even afford the units priced between RM190,000 and RM290,000 because most of them here are fishermen, farmers and factory workers,” he said.

He said it is unacceptable for a federal government agency to build such high rise, high density project in Balik Pulau that is priced outside of the affordability range of the residents.

“There must be political will, both on the federal side and the state side, to stop this and replace the project with one suitable to the local demographics,” he said.

He said previously, the projects allowed in Balik Pulau were only a maximum of five to six storey.

“It is good to build housing for the people but I do not agree with this rash action to propose this high density project,” he said.

Muhammad Farid said he will also personally contact PR1MA to voice his objections to the project and to ask that they scale it down to suit the local demographics.

Balik Pulau on island state’s west coast consists of fishing villages, farms, orchards and a small town centre surrounded by new housing areas.

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