Taman Tiara Titiwangsa residents stand firm against high density projects

Land parcel proposed for mixed commercial development for a condominium with 1,500 housing units (left plot)

KUALA LUMPUR: The battle to end all mixed commercial development in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa may not be over just yet.

For now, the proposed mixed commercial development is a no go, but should the developer of the proposed condominium blocks reapply for the project, residents will have to go through another round of public objection hearings under Rule 5 of the Federal Territory Planning Act 1982, according to residents’ spokesperson Sylvester Navaratnam.

This is something which the residents of the low density area do not want.

“Taman Tiara Titiwangsa used to be Kampung Seavoy, an old settlement (part of Kampung Air Panas, a Chinese New Village) where land was reserved for senior civil servants.

“Tanah Anugerah, they called it, because these plots of land were reserved for the senior government servants as a token of appreciation for their service to the country.

“In the 2012 Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan (DKLCP), this plot of land (7.66 acres) was marked as a community centre and football field. But now they want to change it to residential-commercial,” said Navaratnam.

He said there was clear conflict of interest on the part of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) because of the presence of certain individuals on the board of trustees of Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) which owned the piece of land for the proposed project in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa.

At the time (March 2017), the trustees were (former) federal territories minister Tengku Adnan Mansor, his deputy then M Loga Bala and then Kuala Lumpur mayor Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz.

“So who will apply for change of land use? It will be YWP. And who sits on YWP? The mayor and federal territories minister.

“How can you own the land, approve and give it to yourself? That is conflict of interest. Can it be done like that?” Navaratnam asked.

At the moment, Navaratnam said, if the developers wanted to, they would have to submit a new application with new plans of a scaled down project.

Previously, the proposal was for a condominium with 1,500 housing units. This means that the population density would go up to 800 residents per acre.

Taman Tiara Titiwangsa was capped for a density of 32 residents per acre.

Taman Tiara Titiwangsa spokesperson Sylvester Navaratnam.

Residents are slightly relieved now that the Court of Appeal has declared a public objection hearing by DBKL for a high-density project on Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan land null and void.

The residents cited grounds that they were unable to present their case in a “meaningful” way under the Rule 5 hearing which is designed to allow public participation in areas of planning and development control.

“As it is there is very little land left in Kuala Lumpur. In this area, the roads cannot take on any more traffic.

“When The Reach (a two block condominium) on Jalan Tembaga was proposed, we objected to it, because the current infrastructure could not take on the volume of traffic that would come from it.

“But we lost the case. Now every morning, and during evening rush hour, that road will be congested with parents trying to pick up their children from the school nearby and those using the road to bypass the Jalan Pahang traffic,” said Navaratnam.

Navaratnam urged the government to keep these land parcels for the use of future development for things that would benefit the public, such as the extension of the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, medical research facility or teaching hospital.

“If they want to develop, they should think about things that can benefit the public. Who will the condominiums benefit?

“Imagine the kind of traffic that would be discharged onto Jalan Pahang. As it is, traffic is really bad on that road

In 2017, Navaratnam approached FMT after a report appeared on the portal of Taman Desa residents protesting DBKL’s approval of a plan by Era Ecoland Sdn Bhd for the construction of a high-rise structure, comprising 323 units of affordable housing. The report asserted that the site was reserved for a community centre.

“This is a low density residential area. But over the years, some of the bungalow units have been converted into businesses, wedding venues, places of worship. All these cannot be included into a low density residential area,” he said.

Navaratnam added that the Federal Territory Planning Act was in need of an update to accommodate the current population and traffic condition.

“Back in the day, the plan was made for a one house one car infrastructure. It cannot be applied to the present times where each house would at least have two cars.

“The government cannot operate how it used to operate before. Solve existing traffic problems, and then you talk about adding more commercial developments,” he said.