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Understanding town planning

(Pic by moth / Dreamstime)

THE Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is the law when it comes to development within Petaling Jaya. It is empowered to impose all sorts of rules and conditions on developers.

This is fine, except the conditions and rules that have been implemented may not have adhered to town-planning laws in the first place. In this instalment of Ampersand, I shall show readers how the entire town planning process got off on the right foot, and how the Selangor government came up with a development blueprint that was sustainable.

However, those plans may now have been scuttled based on my research and understanding of what I found as a private citizen. The conclusions I have arrived at do not represent the local council’s stand. But it is important nonetheless to have public discourse over such an important matter.

Structure plan

Town planning is an important aspect of development. Proper planning ensures that a township’s development is not dictated by market forces alone, but takes into consideration public amenities such as schools, hospitals, places of worship and cemeteries.

This planning is provided for in the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA), where the state government is required to conduct a survey and prepare a structure plan that will guide an area’s development.

Page from the Rancangan Struktur Daerah
Petaling dan Sebahagian Daerah Klang
(Click on image for bigger view)
The Selangor government undertook the exercise for a structure plan in 1996 for several fast-developing areas. Known as the Rancangan Struktur Daerah Petaling dan Sebahagian Daerah Klang, the document was a guideline for the state government and local councils on how to develop and maintain existing development for several townships. These were Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya (then referred to as Petaling District), Shah Alam and parts of Klang.

The draft structure plan went through a public hearing exercise, in which some 30,000 residents participated, before it was finally approved and gazetted. This is an important point. Gazetting is a public announcement of the government’s policy. Hence, it is legally binding on local councils and the state government to follow through with what was planned.

Keep this in mind as I go through some of the salient points and goals set by this structure plan.

A development blueprint

The development blueprint of Rancangan Struktur Daerah Petaling dan Sebahagian Daerah Klang was meant to be implemented from 1996 to 2010. It had specific recommendations and data on how to achieve its objectives.

One of objectives of the structure plan was to improve residents’ socioeconomic status. The report states clearly that the target was an average expected household income of RM5,600 by the year 2010, up from the average income of RM2,320 in 1990.

Another objective was to provide a sustainable living environment of 32 persons per hectare.

In order to provide for these in tandem with development trends, the structure plan further maps out the types of land usage for the area and the allotted land size for each specific usage.

The areas and their allotted land sizes were also mapped out in a gambarajah utama, a coloured map that zoned the allowable development in each area. For example, Petaling Jaya was zoned as a residential area.

PJ Local Plan 1 document cover (Courtesy
of KW Mak)
It is already 2010. The average income of RM5,600, the population density of 32 persons per hectare, development that matches the prescribed zoning and the preservation of Petaling Jaya as a residential area should have been achieved.

But thus far, no official statistics have been provided to demonstrate that the structure plan’s objectives have been achieved. My sense is that they haven’t, because of a contentious document called the Petaling Jaya Local Plan 1 that contradicts much of the structure plan.

I will discuss the PJ Local Plan 1 in greater detail in my next column; but for now, it is up to residents to ask the local council, what objectives have been achieved? And if they haven’t, why not?

MBPJ councillor KW Mak ate many types of instant noodles while researching for this column. He is thus familiar with different noodle flavours, but is still not an expert on instant noodles or the documents he referenced.

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4 Responses to “Understanding town planning”

  1. The noodles were well worth it! I love your columns.

  2. Molar York says:

    Can’t wait for the 2nd installment.
    Stock up those instant noodles !!
    (Try the instant porridge as well)

  3. KW Mak says:

    @ Kate Green, Zombie Shooter

    Thank you. But I feel Jacqueline Ann Surin deserves credit too, for if it were not for her strict editor standards, you would be reading a really long thesis with 1,800 words for each of the stories on town planning that I wrote – I had included many more reasons and footnotes to the reasons in the original article.


  4. PJ Resident says:

    Dear KW Mak,

    Thanks for all your effort.

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