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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Penang heritage zone 'refresh'

More than RM400,000 in grants have been approved for four physical rejuvenation projects in the heritage city.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd - via its wholly-owned unit Think City Sdn Bhd - will re-introduce the affordable housing concept into George Town's World Heritage Site in Penang via its public grants scheme - George Town Grants Programme (GTGP) - this year.

Think City's programme director Dr Neik Khor yesterday said more than RM400,000 in grants from the GTGP have been approved for four physical rejuvenation projects in the heritage city. They include a restoration project along Lebuh Pantai for communal student housing, and another rejuvenation of 10 shophouses belonging to Wawasan Open University for a student hostel.

"In line with Think City's objective to encourage private sector and civil society initiatives to promote economically sustainable housing models, these projects were chosen for their potential to kick-start regenerative efforts in their respective locations," Khor told a media briefing in Penang to announce Think City's third tranche of GTGP.

A total of 18 grants worth RM1.18 million under the scheme's third round have been approved and 17 of these are for physical restoration projects. They include the refurbishment of the Penang Road Catholic Cemetary (RM21,600), restoration of the Nagakavidhu Chettiar Lodge (RM62,000) and the repair and restoration of the Datuk Koya tomb (RM25,120).

Think City was set up in 2009 to manage urban rejuvenation in the Unesco world heritage site of George Town. The GTGP , a Think City initiative, was launched in December 2009 and three rounds of grants applications have been conducted.

George Town's historic city, which was nominated by the government for world heritage listing together with Malacca, covers 109.38ha on the island's north-east and is known as the core zone. Surrounding the core zone is a 150.04ha band referred to as the buffer zone.

"At the close of round three," Khor noted, "Think City has 34 physical conservation projects, 16 cultural mapping porjects, 3 shared spaces projects and 6 technical assistance grants."

Think City now manages 60 projects with approximately RM6.9 million committed.

"Based on the same principles we applied with the earlier three rounds of grants which are aimed at protecting George Town's outstanding universal values while helping in the process of urban regeneration, projects for round 4 of the GTGP must be catalytic, build capacity via partnerships and include a developmental element, among others," Khor said.

By Business Times

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