Penang to turn back lanes into public spaces over next 5 years

Penang executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo (right) with Penang Island mayor Yew Tung Seang (left) at the City Hall today.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Island City Council today announced plans to beautify and renew back lanes in town, turning them into green spaces at the cost of RM15 million over the next five years.

This is part of the council’s efforts to spruce up public spaces according to the George Town World Heritage Site special area plan.

State executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo said 9km of back lanes and 4ha of green spaces within the World Heritage Site would be upgraded.

The local government, housing and rural and urban planning executive councillor said the upgrades include pedestrian walkways, planting of trees, adequate lighting, street benches and landscaping. He added that works to move utility cables would free up space.

“Back lanes are always thought of as service lanes for utility providers. With beautification and upgrades, it will give city-goers and tourists a different view of the heritage zone.

“This is in line with the city council’s plans to repopulate George Town. It can be an attraction to get more people to live in our city,” Jagdeep said at the city hall here today.

He said while the city council’s budget was limited, it would tap into corporations to fund the project as part of their corporate social responsibility effort.

Jagdeep gave the example of efforts to upgrade a back lane in Beach Street by the Bank of China.

The following back lanes of these streets in George Town will be upgraded this year: Armenian Street, Church Street, Acheen Street, Kimberley Street, Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze, and the corner of Chulia Street and Penang Road.

Next year, the back lanes of Lorong Lumut, People’s Court, King Street, Soo Hong Lane, Kampung Malabar, Rope Walk and Sri Bahari Road will be upgraded as well.

On the Penang state structure plan (PSP), Jagdeep said a public hearing had been held for two months from September to November last year.

This comes in response to environmental group Sahabat Alam Malaysia which claimed the state had failed to seek public feedback on the PSP.

Jagdeep said 53 people was present at the hearing: 46 members of the public, three from government agencies, three developers and a representative from NGO Think City.