Time to reduce development plot ratio to prevent overcrowding and stave off spread of Covid-19, says Penang councillor

Penang Island City Council councillor Lee Kim Noor said it is important to reduce congestion and overcrowding at residential development projects especially in view of the current Covid-19 pandemic. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Island City Council councillor Lee Kim Noor said it is important to reduce congestion and overcrowding at residential development projects especially in view of the current Covid-19 pandemic. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Aug 26 ― It is time to come up with policies for the future that can prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other viral infections such as a reduction in plot ratio for development projects, a city councillor Lee Kim Noor said.

The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) councillor said it is important to reduce congestion and overcrowding at residential development projects especially in view of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“We should not raise the plot ratio indiscriminately that leads to a higher number of units within a development and causes congestion which makes it easier for the Covid-19 virus to spread,” she said during her speech at the end of the virtual full council meeting today.

Lee said there is a need to prepare larger open spaces so that residents could exercise and go for walks comfortably while still observing strict SOPs.

As for future commercial building developments, she said developers must be required to install a good ventilation system which could filter out viruses.

“If we look at the daily Covid-19 cases, many clusters are from the workplace so other than close contact, there is a high possibility the spread in the workplace could be due to the air ventilation of these places where workers have to spend long hours and sometimes may have to remove their masks to eat, drink or talk,” she said.

As for existing commercial buildings, she proposed that an awareness campaign be launched among these commercial building management agents to look at cleaning up their ventilation systems and install suitable filtration systems.

“This can be done by sending letters to the management agents or to hold a webinar on the topic,” she said.

She also suggested that MBPP prepare the necessary information for those infected with Covid-19 and what they should do in such situations.

She said MBPP can also display the contact numbers of the hospitals and hotline numbers in its various social media pages for the public to call if they were infected with Covid-19 and do not know the next steps to take.

Later, during a press conference, MBPP Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said there was a demand for higher density projects and the state had introduced a plot ratio of 4.0 under a home ownership programme.

He said the higher plot ratio was to stimulate the construction and property industry in the state but it was only for certain projects.

A plot ratio of 4.0 meant that developers can build higher density projects where they can build approximately 251 units of apartment lots measuring about 700 sq ft each on a one acre (44,000 sq ft) piece of land.

Yew said previously the plot ratio for development projects, depending on the type of project and location, were between 2.8 and 3.5.

A plot ratio of 2.8 will allow developers to build 176 units of apartments with the size of 700 sq ft each on a one acre plot of land while a plot ratio of 3.5 will allow 220 units of apartments of the same size to be built.

So far, only four development projects have applied for the plot ratio of 4.0 under the home ownership campaign, Yew said.

Meanwhile, the full council meeting this morning approved a license fee exemption for water sport operators on the island for 2021 and 2022.

The 24 water sport operators of jet skis and winch boats will be exempted from paying the total license fees of RM16,600 for these two years.

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