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Pusat Khidmat Masyarakat - Ahli Parlimen SUBANG

6-2, Jalan Pekaka 8/4, Seksyen 8, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Standing Up for Ara Damansara - towards sustainable development

Ara Damansara residents irked by changes to project

Story and photo by YIP YOKE TENG


THE Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) spent much time drafting the Petaling Jaya Special Area Plan (RKK) but it is now said to go against the recommendations spelt out in the plan.

Residents of Ara Damansara found out the site for Ara Greens Wellness and Healthcare City project should have a plot ratio of 1:2 but the council had allowed 1:3.9.

The residents were also surprised to find out about the project’s conditional approval while it was agreed in the full board meeting in January the project was to be further reviewed.

They said another shocking find was that one of the blocks meant for service apartment later become a “hotel”.

A group of them visited the 3.24ha project site with Kota Damansara assemblyman Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim and Subang MP R. Sivarasa’s aide Peter Chong on Tuesday.

“The RKK recognises Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang as a main road, development along the road can have a plot ratio of 1:4, and density should be reduced in accordance with its distance from the road and the LRT station. The project, as shown in this plan, should only have a plot ratio of 1:2,” said resident C.P. Lim, showing a print-out copy of the plan.

Concerns raised: Ara Damansara residents showing Dr Mohd Nasir (fifth from left) and Chong (second from left) the site on which the Ara Greens Wellness and Healthcare City project will be built and the relevant documents.

“The council has spent so much money commissioning the experts to come out with this plan, why are they not following it?” he asked.

He said the project had suddenly been changed to include a 180-room hotel, in place of the original service apartment with 180 units. The project will also include six blocks of medium-cost service apartments and one block of medical centre.

“The parking requirement will drastically change if they change the usage of the block from apartment to hotel. For service apartment, there must be 2.5 parking bays per unit and another 20% for visitors’ parking while hotel needs to have only one bay for every three rooms. Parking space will be reduced significantly,” Lim added.

The residents also highlighted that the site, as well as that of the adjacent proposed project named Lembah Penchala, was marked for recreational purpose in the Sime Pilmoor Development masterplan in 1995.

“Apart from the 5.3ha land, there were supposed to be two sites for secondary and primary schools but they are now occupied by a commercial area and an abandoned project. Where are the replacement sites? Why have the institutional land disappeared?” another resident Rajinderjit Singh said.

Lim pointed out that since the site was meant for recreational purpose, the utilities might not have enough capacity for such major development.

Chong said the council should explain as to why Form C, which means approval with condition, was issued to the developer while the council was supposed to review the project as requested by the full board.

“Once Form C is issued, all changes will need to be done at the state level, the council will no longer accept the appeals,” he said, adding there was a pressing need to look back at the minutes to find out what had happened.

Dr Nasir said he was also taken aback by the sudden changes in the development plan and questioned why the people were not consulted.

“We support development but there must be a balance. Development should not be done at the expense of the people,” he said.

On the other hand, a spokesman representing the developer clarified that the company did not have any intention to build a hotel.

“It could be miscommunication. The block is meant to be a service apartment, not a hotel” he said.

He added that the company was not aware whether the land was meant for recreational purposes but the current status was “commercial”, and the company had obtained conditional Development Order from the council.

As for the plot ratio, he said when the project was approved it was 1:3.9, and if a new plan had required the plot ratio to be changed, it should only be applied to future projects.

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