Jalan Seladah residents opposed to five-storey apartment building in their neighbourhood

Chong Chieng Jen (third left), his special assistant Dr Kelvin Yii (second left) and residents from Jalan Seladah at the press conference.

KUCHING, Nov 19: A group of residents from Jalan Seladah here are opposing the development of the five-storey Toorak Park Serviced Apartments complex in the middle of their housing estate.

After failing to get a response from the State Planning Unit (SPA), Talikhidmat, Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman), and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the residents turned to Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen for help.

“By allowing the construction of the said serviced apartments, the SPA has totally disregarded its own development guidelines,” Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, told a press conference today.

The inconsistencies and contravention of the SPA’s guidelines concern density control and conversion of residential land for commercial purpose.

Chong said the density control is eight to 10 units of residential house per acre of land, but in this case, the total land area of the two plots of land upon which the serviced apartments will be built is only 1.3 acres, yet there are 65 units of apartments planned.

He also pointed out that the whole area was previously zoned as a residential area, but out of the blue, two small plots of land within this are converted into commercial purpose land for the construction of serviced apartments.

Toorak Park will comprise 65 units of luxury apartments in a five-storey building designed by Italian award-winning architectural facade architect Enrico Costa. Developed by Tecktonic & Sons Holdings Sdn Bhd, the serviced apartments are now open for bookings.

The Jalan Seladah residents claim that they had tried to make an appointment to meet up with the SPA chief, but he is either “on leave”, “sick leave”, “away on course” or “busy”, and they failed to get any response from any related agencies.

The residents in the neighbourhood of double-storey terrace houses, questioned why a five-storey building could be built right in the middle of their neighbourhood.

They questioned the purpose of having rigid density control guidelines for residential areas, yet the SPA can still approve the construction of 65 units of serviced apartments on land with a surface area of 1.3 acres.

They also want to know the rationale of approving the construction of serviced apartments for commercial purposes in the middle of a housing estate and why there was no consultation with the residents there.

“If the SPA has now changed its policies to allow high-rise serviced apartment buildings to be built in the middle of housing estates, then SPA should make its new policy known to the public.

“Otherwise, public perception is that only the well-connected can flout the law to maximize value of their land at the expense and inconvenience of law-abiding citizens,” Chong added. — DayakDaily