Monday, 19 February 2018

(The Star) Expert: Planners and developers must adhere to master plan

A property market expert from the United States says the public is bound to become negative towards any dense development in their neighbourhood due to fear of losing public space.

World Citizen Consulting’s principal consultant Bill Endsley said such resistance was common among residents anywhere around the world but the idea of high-density development did not mean that there should be no public space that comes with it.

Ultimately the city’s master plan must be fully understood and followed, he pointed out

“People are afraid of losing their public space. There should be a trade-off.

“If the developers are working with city planners, there should be an understanding ahead of time what the objective is going be.

“The developer needs to take the corporate social responsibility and say they are going to provide a certain amount of public space.

“In Chicago, US, many of the buildings have a setback from the road. They will put benches and create gardens. After the project is completed and when you pass the street and see the logo of the building, you will get a positive sense of the building with the new public space,

“Developers must think along this way. When you don’t think about public space, the public will become negative towards you,” said Endsley, who was one of the moderators at the World Urban Forum 9 (WUF9) held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre recently.

He stressed that there must be good understanding of the city’s master plan by all parties. The plan has to be for a long term.

“The master plan must take into consideration the long-term growth of the city and it needs to be looked at as a positive thing instead of negatively,” he said.

Endsley added that there was a new perspective on carparks in high buildings near transit oriented developments (TOD).

“Chicago has now reduced the required carparks in high-rise buildings near the public transit lines. You don’t need that many parking bays because the idea with TOD was for people to use public transport. This is integration in the full spectrum of development,” he said.

In most cases, he added, the developers, public transport providers and the government might all be working in silos. There may be no integration on how these plans may work together well, resulting in other problems including pollution.

“There is this notion that people may never be able to live in the city due to various factors. There’s the idea to place people in suburbs and have them commute to the city to work.

“Then it is always mentioned that there will be a green belt for recreational purposes. This idea of living in suburbs and travelling to the city to work has never been truly successful. What happens is there will still be loads of cars and traffic congestion from those who will be commuting, resulting in problems such as pollution.

“The trend is now to live, work and play in the same place,” Endsley said.

Another speaker at the forum was New York University Urban Expansion programme research scholar Patrick Lamson-Hall, who said in general, the job of city planners was to ensure there was sufficient availability of public facilities to meet the demand for floor space in a given area.

The obvious advantage of TOD is that it provides connectivity to places in which the price of land is comparatively low, he said.

“This makes housing more affordable in the city as a whole. It may raise prices locally for existing residents, but overall the benefits will outweigh the losses.

“Technically, all development is a form of TOD. Otherwise, you would never have development in a place without adequate transportation. Unless it is built with subsidies for example,” said Lamson-Hall, who has a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service.

“I think residents should decide if they want their housing to be affordable or unaffordable.

“It is clear that people may not be keen to have their neighbourhood look like the KL CBD, but it is equally clear that there are those who are happy to live in that kind of neighbourhood. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be people moving into the new apartments; they would be staying put,” he added.