By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
Ipohites, exercise your rights judiciously. Inspect the draft local plan and make your objections and representations known…
Based on the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, a local planning authority is allowed to prepare a local plan. However, it has to be integral to the state structural plan. This proviso is provided in Section 12(1) of the aforesaid Act. In complying with this requirement, Ipoh City Council (MBI) together with the Perak Town and Country Planning Department (Jabatan Perancangan Bandar dan Desa Perak), had crafted a draft local plan to cover a period of ten years (2010 to 2020). The Ipoh Draft Local Plan 2020 is now available for inspection.
In drawing up the plan, city council had initiated actions to publicise its intent. A publicity exercise was conducted in 2007 at Heritage Hotel, Ipoh. Representatives from both the public and private sectors were invited to give their input. The meeting conformed to Section 12 A of the Act which categorically states, before commencing the preparation of a draft local plan, the local planning authority shall take steps to secure the following: (a) that publicity is given to the draft local plan that is being prepared (b) that those wishing to make representations are given an opportunity to do so.
And since I was a party to the discussion, I vouch for its relevance with reservations, of course. My one concern is I am unsure whether participants’ feedback was taken into consideration. No one could possibly know as there has been no communication between the interested parties and the planners since then. I had proposed low-impact and sustainable developments and the revamping of the city’s woeful public transport system.
Three years down the road and the draft local plan for Ipoh is now ready. The plan is contained in a 470-page book complete with maps, diagrams, statements and proposals for the improvement of traffic, transportation, road system, landscape, preservation of buildings etc pursuant to Section 12 of the Act. The book, which comes in 3 parts, costs RM150 while the condensed version costs RM15. They are available at the designated display centres.
Publicity and Inspection
The plan covers the 643 sq km of the city under the council’s jurisdiction. It is divided into eight “planning blocks”. Since nearly 31,000 hectare or 48 per cent of the city limits are forested, developments are only concentrated within the city and portions of the 10,040 hectare uninhabited areas, which consisted of abandoned and disused mining lands. The eight “planning blocks” radiate outwards, from inner city to industrial zones to tourist belts and eventually to the forested areas in the west and east (Bukit Keledang and Bukit Kinta forest reserves).
Before the draft plan is adopted, as provided for under Section 15 of the Act, the local planning authority is required under Section 13(1) to make copies of the draft local plan available for inspection at its office and at other places as it may determine; and each copy must be accompanied by a statement of the time within which objections or representations may be made to the local planning authority.
Insofar as publicity is concerned, Section 13 (2) states, the local planning authority shall publish in three issues of at least two local newspapers, one of which being in the national language, a notice stating the dates, time and places when the draft local plan is available for inspection. The time frame within which objections or representations may be made to the local planning authority in respect of the draft local plan is not less than four weeks from the date when copies of the draft local plan are available for inspection.
Although there is discrepancy in the manner the draft plan is being publicised, the fact that the launching by Dato’ Dr. Mah Hang Soon, at Impiana Hotel on Friday, July 23, was carried in mainstream media, including Ipoh Echo, is proof of intent by MBI.
So, Ipohites exercise your rights judiciously. Inspect the Ipoh Draft Local Plan 2020, which is on display from July 23 to August 22. Make your objections and representations known to the planners. Do you want to wake up one morning and see workers laying LRT tracks right across your lawns?
The plan can be viewed at the foyer of MBI and at Jabatan Perancangan Bandar dan Desa, 7th Floor, Bangunan Seri Perak, Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (working days only).