Protecting heritage: George Town Special Area Plan to be gazetted Aug 1

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GEORGE TOWN: After five years of engagement with stakeholders, the George Town Special Area Plan (SAP) will be gazetted come Aug 1.

Some 5,000 buildings in the 259.42ha site will now be governed by stringent development rules under SAP.

There are 10 sub-zones denoting what is allowed to be built at the larger buffer and core zones.

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These will denote what businesses can operate, which areas have been given special exclusions and which are the “no-touch, no-development” areas.

The city council will also be empowered to control work taking place at the site, imposing development charges, acquiring land and marking areas for development.

Also in the plan are improved pedestrian and transport accessibility, new recreational parks and restrictions placed on buildings and land use.

The SAP has come a long way, with continuous talks held with stakeholders, including owners of shophouses and non-governmental organisations, since 2011.

The plan was commissioned by the state government and the state heritage agency, George Town World Heritage Inc, to comply with Unesco regulations on the heritage site.

The plan was also seconded to Unesco for their approval.

A total of 86 objection notices were received during the draft stages of the SAP since 2011, with 45 representatives from interest groups, professional bodies voicing out their concerns.

Penang Town and Country Planning Committee Chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the SAP was completed at the end of May, replete with a translation in Bahasa Malaysia.

He said the SAP received the nod from the state executive council on June 15 to be gazetted.

Jagdeep said the plans will ensure sustainable development in the Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS).

“The SAP also outlines short-term, medium-term and long-term implementation of measures to take care of the WHS.

“It also lists measures to protect the intrinsic values at the site and understand the opportunities, threats and other restriction,” Jagdeep said.