Car parks form a significant chunk of the total Gross Floor Area (GFA) of housing projects and the purchase price of a high-rise property.
As much as 25-35% of the costs involved in housing construction are to comply with minimum carpark requirements, according to architect Lillian Tay, vice-president of Veritas Design Group, at Rehda Institute’s Housing Conference held last month.
She said the additional cost of paying for a car park forced upon a first-home buyer could prevent them from purchasing a property sooner, or even rule out home ownership entirely.
The typical costs in Kuala Lumpur can range from RM130 per sq ft for a podium car park, and from RM250 per sq ft for a basement parking lot.
State regulations and local council bylaws require strata developers to provide a minimum number of carpark lots for each residential unit. In areas such as Selangor, developers are required to build two carpark lots per unit, and as much as 20% allocated to visitors.
The requirements vary depending on the property type and are more relaxed in the case of low-cost housing.
Tay highlighted a case study where a building with a 440 to 500 sq ft car park, with a cost of RM146 per sq ft, amounted to RM73,000. This made up as much as 34% of construction costs, with only 66% of these costs attached to the 717 sq ft residential units priced at RM141,000 each.
“The typical units being built today are smaller so they are more affordable, so you end up with this ironic scenario where you’re building that much footprint for a car, as opposed to for a family,” Tay pointed out.
She said reducing minimum carpark requirements in urban areas would encourage public transport at transit-oriented developments (TOD) and minimise reliance on cars, which would reduce greenhouse gases.
TOD is a land-use solution that focuses on enhancing accessibility by encouraging compact, high-density and mixed-use developments within an easy walk of a transit station. But, according to Tay, it is a relatively new concept.
She suggested that affordable housing be integrated with public transportation, and for carpark bays to be limited in inner-city housing where mass transport is more readily available.
Tay highlighted that car parks could be rented out on an as-needed basis or during emergencies, but acknowledged that reducing carpark numbers would only be feasible where public transportation is a viable alternative.
Unfortunately, Malaysia’s cities subscribe to a car-centric model of development that perpetuates a dependency on cars, hindering public-transportation objectives. Poor walkability with a lack of first- and last-km connectivity also discourages urbanites who wish to make the switch to public transportation.
“Our towns and cities today have many barriers towards walkability – multiple highways that make them disconnected, obstructive utility structures, discontinuous sidewalks, fences, boundaries and gated communities… all creating unwalkable neighbourhoods and dependency on car transport,” she said.
She added that KL’s rail network has relatively lower ridership than Seoul and Singapore despite nearly double the rail length.
Tay further said the split between public and private transportation in KL is currently at a 25:75 ratio, whereas the KL Structure Plan targets a 60:40 split by 2040. Hence, the city is still some ways away from achieving those aspirations.
The crucial shift from a car-centric city to one focused on public transportation also goes beyond the question of affordability. From an environmental standpoint, it would help Malaysia meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 45% by 2030.
Tay also highlighted a study by the World Bank that shows up to 2.2% of GDP economic losses in Malaysia – some RM24.7 billion – are due to traffic congestion.
Road transport is the second-largest carbon emitter in the country (25%) after the energy industry, according to a report titled “Climate Change and Health in Asia” (October 2021) by the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia.
This article was written by Vigneswar Rajasurian of PropertyAdvisor.my, Malaysia’s most comprehensive source of property data, property analytics and insights.