Penang DAP rep: Put all projects in Gurney Drive on hold

A general view of the Gurney Drive, Penang. May 22, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
A general view of the Gurney Drive, Penang. May 22, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, May 22 — Planned high-rise projects along popular tourist promenade Gurney Drive should be put on hold until the state resolves the problem of congestion and flooding in the area, DAP assemblyman Yap Soo Huey said today.

The Pulau Tikus assemblyman, who recently objected to the proposed undersea tunnel that will connect Gurney Drive to Butterworth on the mainland, is now lobbying to have all high-density projects on the promenade temporarily shelved.

“The state government and the council have withheld approval for any further high rise developments for this stretch and conduct a review of the existing problems along this stretch such as severe traffic congestion, lack of parking and flash floods,” she said in a press conference during an appeals board hearing on one of the proposed projects along Gurney Drive.

Yap said the state needs to conduct a comprehensive study on the problems and needs of the stretch.

“The results of the study should then be used to design a master plan for the area so any planned projects will make full use of the area along with the proposed 110 acres of reclaimed land off the coast,” she said.

She said the reclamation project, known as Seri Tanjung Pinang 2, will provide the state with the opportunity to resolve the problems currently plaguing Gurney Drive.

The reclamation project includes plans for an eight-lane highway located where the current promenade is, the undersea tunnel and more mixed development projects.

Yap said she is against the proposed 41-storey hotel project to be located on the Corner Club premises, another 48-storey project by SP Setia Bhd and a 20-storey block next to Sunrise Tower.

She claimed the SP Setia project, called Setia V Residences, is to be a high density project of 170 units, four times more than its original 50 units which is against the existing density limit.

SP Setia is currently allowed to build above density limits as it was awarded the right to construct 1,500 residential units above existing density limits over a 30-year period in exchange for constructing the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition (sPICE), she said.

Yap has written to the authorities and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) objecting to the approvals of those projects but her objections were not heeded.

She said the town and country planning department has plans to turn Gurney Drive into Penang’s Central Business District since the island does not have one.

“The previous CBD was in George Town but now that it’s a heritage zone, they are looking at Gurney Drive so for this area to be a CBD, we need to have a proper master plan to ensure the developments here are properly planned,” she said.

Gurney Drive, the only seafront stretch where tourists and residents can enjoy the view of the sea while driving past or going for a walk, is a popular tourist spot but it now faces severe congestion issues especially during peak hours and weekends.

Yap said the amount of traffic going into the area have increased and worsened with the opening of the new mall, Paragon Mall along the stretch.

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