Public interest prevails in Subang Ria park

The Selangor state appeal board has today upheld the decision by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) to turn down Sime Darby’s application to subdivide and commercialise 19 acres of Subang Ria park.

The three-member panel unanimously agreed that Sime’s application, which included a plan to build an extension wing of suites for its Subang Jaya Medical Centre private hospital, and 250 units of high-end condominiums, was not in compliance with the conditions of the draft local plan.

Panel member Teh Zawahir Abdul Malek said the entire 72.6 acres of Subang Ria park was set aside as a recreational park under the draft local plan when the decision was made by the MPSJ in May last year to turn down Sime’s application, hence only public recreational or ‘recreational-related buildings’ should have been allowed.

“The term of ‘recreational-related building’ was not defined (in the draft local plan), but the term should be limited to structures such as waterfront cafes, bistros, and art and recreational activities,” she said.

The main ground of appeal by Sime was that the Selangor State Planning Committee had approved in principle its plan to develop 19 acres of the park in 2009.

It also argued that MPSJ could exclude its plan for the 250 condominiums in order to approve its application. However, appeal board member, Ho Khong Ming, noted that neither the private hospital suites nor exclusive condominiums fit the land zoning conditions. He also noted that the condominium development was an integral part of the Sime’s application.

The panel also noted that at the material time of Sime’s application in May, 2009, the draft local plan was the relevant document to be consulted, and its zoning conditions would have applied.

The panel further noted that by the time the draft local plan was approved (on 17 March) and gazetted (27 May) last year, an unknown party had changed the status of Subang Ria park from a public recreational park to a private recreational park.

Ho pointed out that this amendment to what is now the MPSJ 2020 Local Plan was flawed, notwithstanding that it is within the capacity of the authorities to make such amendments.

Ho said the local residents must be consulted before such significant amendments to a draft local plan can be made. The lack of such communication, in turn, shows a lack of transparency which leads to public distrust of the authorities.

“A local plan should not be a vehicle to confer privileges for selective landowners,” he underscored.

Ho directed the MPSJ to make the necessary changes to its 2020 Local Plan to reflect the draft local plan that was agreed on by all parties.

He added that Sime should seriously consider reaching an amicable agreement with the state, and is free to submit another development application that complies with land use purposes of the local plan.

“Sime should sell it at RM1”

Subang Jaya residents say they are hopeful that Sime will now hand back the 19-acres of the park to MPSJ.

“We hope (Tun) Musa Hitam, as the board  chairman of Sime, will intervene and arrange to hand back the park [at a nominal price] of RM1,” said Subang Jaya Residents Association chairman, AS Gill (above, right).

He revealed that Sime, in its last week letter to the park acquisition task force, had drastically reduced its asking price. The task force was initiated by the Selangor state government to explore the possibility of buying back the entire park  from Sime.

Meanwhile, MPSJ councillor, Rajiv Rishyakaran, said that Subang Ria park has now been truly defined as a park meant for recreational purpose, as in the local plan.