Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flaws in City Plan?

Source : http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/5/26/central/21348856&sec=central

Monday May 26, 2008

Flaws in City Plan?


Will Kuala Lumpur be sustainable by 2020? Any local plan prepared must be consistent with the National Physical Plan, in addition to it being consistent with the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020. However, consultants hired by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

David Mizan: ‘There are many errors, some incomplete information and elements which contradicted existing development conditions.’

Imagine a tiny fish bowl squirming with hundreds of little fishes, each fighting for its own space to move freely and in harmony.

KLites may just find themselves living in similar conditions in 12 years, if proposals set out in the Draft City Plan is correct.

Figures contained in the Draft City Plan shows major discrepancies prompting the question – could the planners hired by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) have erred when drafting the plan? And if so was it done deliberately?

Architect David Mizan Hashim pointed out in a letter to StarMetro recently that the plan was not perfect.

He said there were many errors, some incomplete information and elements which contradicted existing development conditions.”

“By envisioning a population increase from 1.6 million today to 2.2 million by 2020 within the same physical area, it will be forced to make many controversial compromises.”

Indeed David Mizan has hit the nail on the head with that statement.

The plan has made the assumption that Kuala Lumpur’s population of 1.6 million is expected to grow to 2.2 million by 2020.

The draft goes on to justify that the only way to accommodate another 600,000 people in the city by 2020 is to increase density and that will be to intensify development.

The draft local plan of KL is fundamentally flawed,” said local government expert and environmental lawyer Derek Fernandez.

“The fundamental flaw of the plan is that it is being prepared on the basis that it has to cater for an additional 600,000 people in the Federal Territory by 2020,” said Fernandez.

Legally binding blueprint: The NPP provides that the density of KL is to be reduced to the minimum sustainable figure of 25 people per hectare.

This, according to Fernandez, is in contrast with the policies in the National Physical Plan (NPP) which is legally binding on the Federal Territory which provides sufficient land to cater for a total population growth of 8.5 million in Kuala Lumpur, Klang Valley and Seremban combined.

In case you’re not familiar, the NPP is the legally binding blueprint for sustainable development under the Federal Territory Planning Act.

Furthermore, the NPP provides that the density of KL is to be reduced to the minimum sustainable figure of 25 people per hectare.

In fact, the NPP identifies that the gross density of KL is higher than 25, nevertheless makes it mandatory that 25 figure is applicable to KL.

On the contrary, the KL plan attempts to increase the density to ridiculous figures.

The plan identifies areas that are expected to increase in population with the highest being in Bukit Jalil-Seputeh followed by the city centre and Sentul Menjalara Strategic Zones.

The report goes on to say that the increase will require more than 150,000 homes in the next 12 years.

The plan is clearly not following the development strategies stated in the NPP and instead of decreasing density; it is in fact increasing it.

It would seem that the City Plan is in direct conflict with the national planning policies.

While paying lip service to the NPP by referring to it in Volume 1, fails to grasp and apply the essence of its principles on sustainable development in KL.

Tan: ‘KL must go through a major rejuvenation’

That is the reduction of densities to 25 people per hectare, increase in public open space to 2ha per 1,000 people, and spreading out the development and population density equally along the Klang Valley, Seremban and KL conurbation.

Increases in densities beyond the sustainable limits have already been exceeded. In KL, some believe this is the source of problem of poor quality of life, traffic jams, flooding, loss of green areas, lack of space, pollution, congestion and even unemployment.

One indicator of non-sustainable development is the amount of public recreation space available. Everyone requires open space and the criterion set in the NPP is 20 sq metres per person.

Not only does the local plan violates this, it arbitrarily imposes a 11sq metre per person by 2020, and even has the audacity to suggest 23% of this has got to be made up of private open spaces because there is not enough public land.

In the same note, public land in Bukit Gasing and Federal Hill is open for development – thereby increasing density here.

The total area in KL is 242sq km and the present population in KL is 1.62mil. Therefore the average density is already 68 people per hectare, which exceeds the required 25 per hectare.

“If this fundamental flaw is not remedied by cancelling all increase in plot ratio and density, and in fact taking back land to meet minimum sustainability requirements, KL will be doomed and we can expect loss of quality of life and anger among its population,” Fernandez said.

People should come forward and demand that average density for the whole of FT as 25 per hectare and that standard policies be complied to safeguard their future.

But despite the plan’s imperfections, David Mizan is confident that if the city is able to provide easy accessibility, enough open space, and maintain adequate green areas KL will be able to sustain a large population.

“If all these basic necessities are provided for, and if everything is done properly why not” he said.

Real Estate and Housing Developer’s Association’s (Rehda) KL branch secretary Tan Ching Meng agrees with David Mizan on that point and believes that sustainable development is the only way out to maintain the environment.

“KL must go thorough a major rejuvenation and in order to do that old businesses such as factories, industries and old buildings need to be relocated out,” said Tan.

“Once you do this than the city can accommodate more people and it would seem that the local plan is striving to do this under the Brown field development programme,” he said, adding despite its flaws the local plan has some good things to offer.

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