Bukit Kiara’s public-private partnership path to sustainable development

Bukit Kiara has been ‘mostly’ gazetted as a Federal Park since July 29, 2020.

This is not the first time a gazette was passed declaring parts of Bukit Kiara as a ‘public park’.

Taman Lembah Kiara – the family recreation zone – was gazetted in 2004.

“Lot 54267” was also gazetted around the same time. However, this was revoked in 2010.

Lot numbers come and go, with new certified survey plans being issued. A gazette is unsustainable when lot numbers no longer exist, as is the case with “Lot 54267”.

Public trust and confidence

Other than land size, what makes today’s gazettement of 110.8 hectares of the Federal Park any different, or better than before?

The answer – public trust and confidence.

Former Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad’s ‘two-part roadmap’ of Dec 2, 2019, created a point of reference on what is doable, and the timeframe in which to do it. It was the first time the public had received such a commitment.

Part One has been fulfilled – creating trust and confidence that the remaining 51.4 hectares will be similarly gazetted by 2027.

Macro look at acreages

With the Federal Park now relatively secure, it’s time for a ‘macro stock-taking’ of the 620.8 hectares acquired by the government in 1976.

What became of those major chunks outside of today’s 162.2-hectare Federal Park?

Roughly 222.5 hectares continues to serve as the Institute of Public Administration (INTAN), various infrastructure and utilities, and a public golf course – Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam.

The other half came under Sime Darby (TPC Kuala Lumpur, or KLGCC Resort and its ‘luxury lifestyle homes’) and Berjaya Corporation (Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort).

These lands, together with the Sungai Penchala Malay reserve land, form the surrounding Greater Kiara ecosystem – within which planning policies should determine buffer zones and conserve the right proportion of greens and ecosystems in line with the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2040.

The challenges for conserving this ecosystem are many. Let’s delve into some of the major ones.

The KLGCC Resort

This sector, originally earmarked for the National Mausoleum, was later turned into a golf course, and opened in 1991. Today, under Sime Darby, it also features ‘golf villas’ and several ‘development parcels’.

Changes in land use and densities ascribed to these parcels as the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, reflect an ongoing intensification, which is at odds with what the Structure Plans (2020 and Draft 2040) espouse.

The equestrian resort

A private equestrian club was never envisioned in the Taman Kiara Master Plan, which supported a myriad of public sporting/recreational amenities under the National Botanical Gardens concept.

Despite this, Berjaya obtained leases on two lots measuring 28.3 and 25.5 hectares. The first lot accommodates their clubhouse/entertainment facilities, with some forested remnant. The second, (marked as a private open space in the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020) fulfils various equestrian uses.

After a decade of back-door lobbying to build an “eco-hospital” (sic), serviced apartments and international school on the second lot, City Hall has instead been ‘persuaded’ to re-zone that forested remnant (of the first lot) as commercial, to enable a ‘scaled-down ’ project.

Appeal to City Hall and private interests

With the Federal Park secured and the impending gazette of the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2040, it is time for a holistic, more altruistic re-think in which business interests give way to the common good.

City Hall is able to promote such an agenda as the planning authority.

Granted, Sime Darby and Berjaya invested in Bukit Kiara in the 1990s with expectations of continuing economic growth. But things have changed drastically since then, and corporations must adapt.

It is incumbent upon our government to guide such a transformation through win-win propositions and public-private partnerships.

We call upon the corporate citizens of Bukit Kiara to recognise the importance of the Greater Kiara ecosystem and appeal to them to work with civil society to realise our dream for a world-class, sustainable city.

The land owned by corporations is not the only major component of the Greater Kiara equation that needs solving. There is also the Sungai Penchala Malay reserve land.

To make a difference, sign up as a member at http://www.fobk.org.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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