Penang’s first urban regeneration project kicks off, new blocks ready by 2022

Jagdeep (centre) announces the Mahsuri urban regeneration project during a press conference in George Town July 4, 2019. — Picture by Opalyn Mok
Jagdeep (centre) announces the Mahsuri urban regeneration project during a press conference in George Town July 4, 2019. — Picture by Opalyn Mok

GEORGE TOWN, July 4 — Penang state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo today said the state will proceed with its first urban regeneration project to demolish 50-year-old low-cost homes that are to be replaced with new apartments.

He said the five blocks, comprising 300 units on Jalan Mahsuri in Bayan Baru, will be torn down in stages and 1,150 units will be built in its place.

“Out of this, a total of 345 units will be low-medium cost units of 700sq ft and 805 affordable housing units of 850sq ft,” he told a press conference at his office here after chairing a housing committee meeting.

The local government, housing and town and country planning committee chairman said the existing units are sized between 250sq ft to 429sq ft, adding that the owners will each get one low-medium cost (LMC) unit in compensation.

“Each unit will come with one carpark lot and the project will have more facilities,” he said.

He said the owners will also be given the option to upgrade to the affordable housing units by topping up RM227,500.

Each LMC unit is priced RM72,500 while the affordable housing unit is RM300,000.

Jagdeep said the state is targeting completing the entire urban regeneration project within three years from now.

“We want to get the certificate of completion and compliance in three years’ time according to our timeline,” he said.

He said the state has a detailed flowchart of the project’s yearly goals.

The first year, the state will hold a fresh survey on the proposed project before appointing a management committee, holding meetings with the committee and appointing a property consultant to compile the list of unit owners.

“We expect to complete the documentation such as the sales and purchase agreements that the unit owners must sign by this first year,” he said.

Under the scheme, owners will have to sell their units to Penang Development Corporation (PDC) but in return, will be compensated with one LMC unit.

Each owner will also be expected to vacate the premises by the second year, but will be paid a monthly fee to rent housing elsewhere pending the completion of the new apartment blocks.

“We will likely call a request for proposal for the development of the project,” Jagdeep said.

He said there is a likelihood that not all unit owners will be required to move out at the same time.

“There were previously six blocks here and the sixth block was demolished as it was deemed unsafe so we have this land in which we can build the first new block,” he said.

He said residents can move into the first new block while they demolish the second block and rebuild and this process will continue until all five apartment blocks are built.

The state has been planning the urban regeneration project for some of the state’s old low-cost housing for since setting up an urban regeneration committee (URC) in 2015.

“We have conducted surveys in Mahsuri earlier for this project but it came to a standstill due to legalities issue,” he said.

He said the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC)will be meeting soon to discuss the legalities of urban regeneration projects as there were no specific laws governing such projects.

“We are hopeful of positive results from the NPPC meeting but we will still proceed with this project and use other options and provisions under existing laws,” he said.

He said the state can still use the Strata Title Act, National Land Code and Land Acquisition Act to implement the urban regeneration project.

He said Jalan Mahsuri will serve as a pilot project to show the results to the unit owners in the other projects so that they will better understand it.

The state has also identified other low-cost projects to undergo urban regeneration.

The four other sites identified are Taman Free School with 1,130 units, Rifle Range with 3,639 units, Taman Siakap with 200 units and Taman Mak Mandin with 200 units.

He said the owners needed to see that they will be getting a better deal if they agreed to it so the Mahsuri project must proceed first.

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