Monday, April 20, 2009

Kelana Jaya Football Field Development

Before - Kelana Jaya FAS field, as it stands today

Most Petaling Jaya residents will know of the football fields at Kelana Jaya SS7 which used to belong to the Football Association of Selangor. This field has actually been converted into commercial land since 2003, and the developer is planning to execute its development plans.

After? What it may look like in the future
(The condominiums in the background are existing, as per "Before")

Included in the plans are 20 units of 6½ storey shoplots, 72 units of 4½ storey shoplots, and most critically in a subsequent phase, two 15 to 28 storey office blocks with 8 levels of podium.

In December last year, the residents in the vicinity held a peaceful protest over the proposed development which is located in an area where the level of traffic congestion is already intolerable. Even the traffic consultants employed by the developer classified a few roads there with a "F" status.

For this project, the MBPJ has taken pains to ensure that all parties are heard before the development plans are approved (or rejected). Despite initial notification hiccups which were later properly rectified, a public objection period was provided and the council held its first public hearing on the issue on the last Monday, 13th April.

I had during the hearing asked the traffic consultant to take into account not only the impact of the initial proposed development of the low-rise shop lots on the traffic in the area, but also of the subsequent proposed high-rise projects. The assumption of an annual 1.5% increase in organic traffic volume may also not have taken into consideration the other on-going development projects in the vicinity, including "The Paradigm" next door, and various high-density projects in Ara Damansara (across the tunnel).

While the local government is still finding its feet in doing things differently from the previous administration, I'm very happy that public hearings on development projects and issues have become the norm in the proceedings of the MBPJ. Unlike many of the "hand-me-down" projects which I have to look into today, which were clearly not approved with any public consultation at all, residents get their voices heard today, instead of after the project nears completion.

I hope this new, more transparent and accountable processes will become institutionalised in the mindset and administration of MBPJ which can only bring about more sustainable and balanced development in the city we so love. And hopefully with this process, developers will now realise that they will not get their way by "gau tim" the MBPJ officers and councillors, but they will have to listen to the valid and reasonable grouses of the PJ residents.

Hopefully as part of this process, it'll encourage better development strategies (e.g., not cramming the tallest possible building into the small piece of land) but instead creating open parks and spaces, adding value such as ensuring provision of public transport facilities and seeding a better community eco-system within the development area. There are really not many pieces of open land left for development in central PJ, but hopefully with whatever that's left, they can help unwind many of the development hazards of the past.
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