A Promising Lifestyle for Penangites?

By Ong Eu Soon

A promising premier lifestyle destination located on 20 acres of prime land, without enough setback and buffer from Lebuhraya Thean Teik. The property is surrounded by 1,300 residential units of All Seasons Park and Melody Homes and 115 units of three-storey shop lots, and flanked at both ends by major anchor tenants.

Is this a smart-growth that promise reduced congestion, clean air, affordable housing, open space protection, and reduced urban-service costs?
There is 4 areas of major concern that the Penang state government has failed to consider when approving the project:
1) Traffic circulation

2) Storm water erosion

3) Land use compatibility

4) Housing stock

The project site is located along a short stretch of a narrow street without alternative routes provided to divert traffic circulation. Without enough front, side and rear yard setback and buffer zone, it is a very ambitious project that attempt to put too many people on too little land; 1300 residential units with thousands of shoppers on a 20 acres of land with a single access road of less than a kilo meter.
Take a look at the following table regarding typical densities. The 1300 dwelling units on 20 acres translated to 65 dwelling units per acre far exceeding the 20 residents per acre as defined in the table for high density residential occupancy. Density refers to the number of people or jobs in an area. A dwelling unit typically consists of average 3 residents, making this project having a density of 65×3=195 residents per acre. About 10 time higher than the permitted density without taking into consideration the commercial traffic generated by shopping events. Who on planet earth can approve such type of extreme congested development? Only in this Bolehland where both Pakatan and BN state governments have the stupidity to make such an incredible decision on development density.

Table 1 Typical Densities


Population Density

Typical Housing


Less than 0.5 residents per acre.

Houses on large lots (>5 acres)

Low-Density – Suburban

0.5-5 residents per acre.

Houses on lots 0.5 to 5 acres

Mid-Density – Suburban Cluster or Urban

5-12 residents per acre.

Houses on lots 0.2 to 0.5 acres (2-5 houses per acre)

Compact – Urban

More than 12 residents per acre.

Various combinations of detached houses on small lots, duplexes, townhouses, and low-rise (under 4 story) apartments and condominiums.


More than 20 residents per acre

Low- and high-rise (more than 4 story) apartments and condominiums.

The project is build on an excavated hill slope, with limited space for parking , driving, entry and exit points, and no right hand turn when exit from the project site, the project would create enormous traffic problems for Lebuhraya Thean Teik and its surrounding neighborhoods. Channeling all traffic into one intersection without a single traffic light is the best recipe for traffic congestion, definitely not a best solution for prosperity.

The land is deemed topographically unsuitable for high density residential occupancy and commercial traffic. Disregard the land use compatibility with the surrounding neighborhoods and traffic , would make this project a big time failure. Development is not about just building more high rises and shopping complex. It should be about the sustainability of the project itself. The state government should explain how the project could benefit the Air Itam township in term of providing employment opportunities, reducing commuting pressures , generating local demand for services and supporting industries, and generating demand for housing? Will the project eventually end up as another suburban sprawl due to bad traffic congestion along Lebuhraya Thean Teik?

The whole project would end up as another abandoned or lowly occupied commercial and residential areas. Only a fool without common sense would invest his/her hard earned money on a project that is destined to fail from the very beginning. The state government has the obligation to stop this type of development which brings no benefit to the people.
The state government should stop all the excavation carried out on the slope as it is a dangerous activity and done without studying the full impact of the instability problems of the entire hill slope. Is the state government allowing developers to build landslide hazards disregard about the safety of the surrounding neighborhoods even if the project might lead to a calamity of catastrophic proportions in the future?

Lim Guan Eng may again blame Koh Tze Koon for the approval of the project, and claimed that it is too costly for the state government to stop the project. This will end up as another example where developer get his way with no benefit to the environment and the people. The existence of such type of project speak badly about the competency, accountability and transparency of the current state government.