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Friday, March 20, 2009

AGB may sue Penang govt over heritage project halt

The developer of a RM400 million heritage restoration project in Penang may sue the Penang Municipal Council and the state government, claiming that it's being prevented from continuing work.

Kuala Lumpur-based Asian Global Business Sdn Bhd (AGB) also alleges the state authorities didn't tell of a height restriction affecting its project when planning permission was given in 2007.

"We have been led up the garden path and were not told of a supposed height restriction of 18m for the area when they gave us planning permission in 2007 to build at 51.7m," AGB chairman Kate Lim told selected media at a briefing in Penang.

"We are now considering legal redress because millions have been spent by us since no caveats were placed when approval was given.

"We are now a victim of circumstances," she added.

The "Pier Hub @ Weld Quay" project, located along the island's old waterfront, involves conserving six existing 19th century buildings and adding new residential and commercial properties, among others. It was slated for completion by 2011.

AGB said the municipal council is not renewing their lapsed planning permission and is withholding the building plan.

It submitted a renewal application last November and payment was acknowledged but the council has not responded in writing as to why an extension is still not granted.

Last year, AGB and three other developers - Boustead Holdings Sdn Bhd, E&O Bhd and the Low Yat Group - came under the spotlight when their projects were singled out for allegedly breaching height restrictions.

The rules were imposed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) that placed George Town on its World Heritage List in July last year.

The four projects were approved prior to George Town's entry into the list. They are AGB's "Pier Hub @ Weld Quay" and the Boustead Royale Bintang Hotel project behind the general post office in Lebuh Downing, both lying in the heritage core zone.

The other two are E&O Hotel's extension and a 23-storey hotel in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah by the Low Yat Group in the buffer zone, both of which were reported to be 84.4m high.

By Business Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

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