PUBLIC OPEN SPACE POLICY: A GENERAL ASSESSMENT

Introduction

  • By the year 2020, 75 percent of Malaysian population is expected to live in urban areas. It is stated in the 10th Malaysia Plan, amongst the issues to be addressed in order to achieve a vibrant and livable city is the provision of public open spaces.
  • The 2nd National Physical Plan or NPP-2 clearly states this in Theme 5: Human Settlement Management. Policy 20 of the NPP-2 highlighted that planning standards and guidelines for urban development shall be designed to meet the needs of a developed country. Amongst the measures outlined in this policy is to use a space guideline for public facility in order to achieve the concept of green neighborhood.
  • The Planning Standards and Guidelines for Open Space and Recreational Area (JBPD 7/2000) is a guideline formulated by the Federal Government to ensure that public open space is available for all types of development. Provision of public open space requirement has been implemented in every housing scheme. It became a legal clause to the approval of planning permission. Since land matter is under the exclusive power of the State Government, the provision of public open space can only be implemented by the Local Authority once the JBPD 7/2000 guideline is adopted by the State Government.
  • It is also noted that the JPBD 7/2000 guideline is not statutory. Therefore, the State Government may adopt and adapt the application of the guideline whichever the State feels the best.

Implementation of the Public Open Spaces Policy

  • A Local Authority is responsible in executing and enforcing the public open space policy within their respective administrative areas. The 10 percent provision for public open space applied  in every housing scheme is a basic value set by  the Federal Government through the JBPD 7/2000 guideline. In reality, the 10 percent value and requirements of public open space varies among Local Authority and the States in Peninsular Malaysia.
  • The implementation of public open space is monitored directly by the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC). The Council serves to advise the Federal and State Governments, on matters relating to the town and country planning as stipulated in the Town and Country Planning Act, 1976 (Act 172). The Council is also responsible in the formation of national policies and matters referred to by State Governments. The Council is chaired by the Prime Minister, with members comprising of the Menteri Besar and the Chief Ministers. In addition, Ministers from several key Ministries are also members of the NPPC.
  • NPPC No.5/2005 endorsed the target in providing 2 hectares of public open space for every 1,000 urban populations by the year 2020. This standard is similar to other major cities like Melbourne, New York and Toronto. The standard is easily achievable as demonstrated by these cities. However the execution of the 2 hectares provision has become a major dilemma for local authorities in this country.  As of December 2009, the total area of public open spaces in Peninsular Malaysia stood at 1.19 hectares per 1,000 urban populations (NPPC No.12/2010). Therefore, a difference of 0.81 hectares of public open space needs to be fulfilled in order to meet the target. A question to ponder is whether it is possible to achieve this target when the rate of urbanization is so high in major cities like Kuala Lumpur and George Town?
  • Geographical condition is a major factor affecting the provision of public open spaces for housing schemes set in the local authority areas. The 10 percent public open space requirement is difficult to be fulfilled in Penang because development has reached saturation stage. The size of the island could not accommodate rapid development in Penang. It is almost impossible for developers to meet the 10 percent provision because Penang is facing a critical shortage of land. In order to overcome this problem, the Penang Municipal Council has adapted the existing policy by adopting 4 square meters of open space per resident for development. In addition, the State Government has came out with an alternative by considering roof top gardens as part of open space requirement.
  • This factor indirectly affects developers because the 10 percent provision seems to affect their investment return. As a requirement under the Act 172; every developer shall provide public open spaces for any development and surrender it to the Local Authority.
  • Several developers have taken different approach to this requirement where by piece-meal development (less than 2 hectares) is being carried out. As a result, housing or commercial schemes was under-provided with public facilities, including public open spaces.
  • However, some developers have benefitted this policy. With the provision of public open spaces, housing schemes sell at higher prices because of changes in perception whereby public open spaces are highly appreciated especially in high density areas as places for recreation as well as social interaction. It has become an exclusive necessity for buyers to enjoy lush landscaping and interesting natural features.

Conclusion

  • This situation indirectly leads to the attainment of the objectives of the NPP-2 towards enhancing the spatial and environmental quality, diversity and safety for a better quality of life and livability. In addition, 10 percent public open space policy involved all stakeholders; the government whether Federal, State and Local Authorities; the private sector and the public as end users. Definitely we are heading towards fulfilling the requirement of 2 hectares of public open space per 1,000 urban population by year 2020.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    TeAAbl said,

    May 28, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

    TeAAbl

    » PUBLIC OPEN SPACE POLICY: A GENERAL ASSESSMENT

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