Subang USJ6 residents lose appeal, Telekom free to exploit reserve land (updated)

USJ is one of the most built-up and congested areas in KL

The Selangor State Appeals Board today turned down an appeal by Subang Jaya residents to stop Telekom from commencing a commercial project on what is classified as utility land at USJ6.

The controversy arose when the state planning committee and the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) had approved in November 2008 the construction of a high-rise building on Telekom reserve land:

The board ruled that Telekom, which is rightful land owner, is entitled to develop a nine-storey building under its existing commercial land title.

However, the board has imposed three conditions on the development, where Telekom is bound to reduce the size and height of the building, mitigate the traffic impact on the area, as well as restrict the building to office use only.

The Appeal Board was chaired by Abu Bakar Awang, sitting with Ho Khong Ming and Azmeer Rashid.

Ho said, weighing the rights of the landowner and the well-being of the surrounding residents, that the board can only direct a compromise-solution.

He also ruled that there was an error made in the MPSJ Local Plan, which showed the 0.35ha land in question gazetted as open space, and the public display of the plan then led to confusion.

“MPSJ should issue a public apology over the error it made,” said Ho.

On the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) report which projected traffic conditions at several junctions around the land at level D (a high level of congestion; F being the worst), the panel found that the report had not been presented to the MPSJ town planning department when the council had granted an approval to Telekom for the building in question.

Azmeer said the councillors should have discussed the TIA report when they approved the project but they did not do so.

The appeal of the USJ6 residents against the Telekom commercial project has been in the spotlight because the decision sets a precedent for similar utility land disputes in the Klang Valley.

Subang Jaya assemblywoman, Hannah Yeoh, opined that TM Facilities is now only allowed to develop a five-storey building.

“The existing TNB building is only five-stories, and the board has ruled that the new building cannot be higher than its surrounding buildings,” she (right) said.

As TM Facilities is now bound to submit a new development plan, Yeoh said she will ask MPSJ to regulate the project thoroughly.

“I will ensure the One-Stop Center (OSC) committee (in MPSJ) to listen to the residents’ demands and [stipulate a low-rise building],” she said.

Meanwhile, USJ6 resident, Philip Soong, opined the judgment will open a space for utility companies to exploit institutional reserve land for commercial purposes, to the detriment of the residents living nearby.

Soong also asked the authorities to keep a close eye whenever a utility land is granted out with commercial title.

Komunitikini understands that utility land is always given commercial title with special endorsement that restricts its function to utility purposes only.

However, this endorsement has not been done in many cases, which has led to the potentially unfair exploitation of such lands.

The 0.35ha land located at the USJ6 utility reserve zone is under the ownership of TM Facilities.

TM Facilities proposes to sub-divide the land for a nine-storey commercial building. However, the residents nearby are up in arms against it, worrying about the traffic congestion it will bring into the area.

Despite strong protests, the Selangor state planning committee (SPC) approved the project in March 2009.

MPSJ later agreed to revoke the order. The revocation was however withdrawn in April 2010.