GEORGE TOWN, July 5 — The George Town World Heritage special area plan (SAP) will finally be gazetted this August 1 and all businesses within the zone will have to comply with all regulations under the plan.
Housing and town and country planning committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo announced the implementation of the SAP at a press conference today.
“The gazetting of the SAP will enable the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) to monitor and ensure sustainable management of the heritage zone in accordance to the conditions set by the World Heritage Committee,” he said.
The SAP controls the management, restoration and developments within the heritage zone that covers 2,569 buildings in the core zone and 2,444 buildings in the buffer zone.
“With the implementation of the SAP, it will allow the local government to monitor all planning works, to impose development charges, to implement notices of land acquisitions and to declare development areas within the zone,” he said.
The SAP is one of the requirements imposed by Unesco upon the joint inscription of George Town and Malacca as world heritage sites.
The state government started drafting the SAP about six years ago and the first draft was publicly displayed in 2011 before two hearings on the draft was held.
The draft SAP was sent for translation to Malay and a planning and design guide for public realms was included into the SAP. Finally, the plan was approved by the state executive council on June 15 this year.
The SAP delineates the zones for buildings and land activity within the heritage area. For example, hotels fall into the tourism and leisure zone while the institution zone covers schools, police stations and fire stations; banks are in the financial zone and retail outlets fall into the enterprise zone.
It also contains plans to enhance public realms such as the waterfront promenade programmes encompassing the Green Hall-Esplanade waterfront, the upper Weld Quay waterfront and the clan jetties waterfront.
With the implementation of the SAP, local government committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said this means all businesses and hotels within the zone will have to comply with the SAP regulations.
“With the SAP, regulations will be tighter and hotels that submit their applications for licences after August 1 will be subjected to the SAP regulations,” he said.
This means hotels that are not located within the areas specified for hotels will not be given approvals but this will not apply on hotels and businesses that have already obtained their licences before this.
Chow said hotels in the state have been given three years since the state government started its efforts to legalise all hotels.
“Hotels outside the heritage zone are given one last year to apply for a full licence because temporary permits will no longer be issued after November next year,” he said.
He reminded all hotels still using the temporary permits to speed up their applications for full licences for this final year.