Heritage Sabah objects to draft plan

KOTA KINABALU: Representatives of Heritage Sabah, a group of concerned public citizens who are opposing an unpopular commercial project next to the historical Atkinson Clock Tower, have submitted their objections to the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) Local Draft Plan 2020 during the public consultation period that was supposed to end on December 26, 2011 but was extended to January 26, 2012

The group also attended City Hall Meet the Client Session on December 21 and was represented by activist Jefferi Chang.

Among the questions asked by Heritage Sabah via Chang to Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir was whether DBKK would reject outright the 16-storey project next to the city’s oldest historical monument.

The Mayor replied that “He would write to seek further details from state town planning as to what the status is concerning the 16-storey project.

However, his reply was received with mixed views by the group.

“By seeking further details from the state town planning authorities, it shows that DBKK is relying on the State Town and Regional Planning Department for advice when in fact it has its own Town Planning Department and a City Planning Committee that approved the plan,” commented local heritage advocate Richard Nelson Sokial, a spokesperson for the group.

“From what we understand, the only body other than City Hall itself that can be asked for advice should be the Central Town and County Planning Board.”

He added, “Heritage Sabah has taken note that our new city Mayor has inherited important issues that need to be decided for the good of KK City and its citizens. We hope he will make the right decision for the Atkinson Clock Tower and not pressured to be a rubber stamp for people in high places”.

“If you want the people of Sabah to love Kota Kinabalu, please protect our city history.”

The group also questioned the wisdom of the zoning of the Atkinson Clock Tower and its surrounding areas – Town Padang, Australia Place, KK Community Hall and Gaya Street under ‘Commercial Zone’ and during the recent Sabah State Planning Standards Workshop held last week, Heritage Sabah representatives suggested for special controls to be implemented for all known historical sites and buildings so that their integrity and intrinsic value would not be compromised by uncontrolled commercial developments.

“It would be wiser to consider rezoning this stretch of area as a “historical preservation district”. Having a Historical Preservation District would add more variety and interest to our city, which will be 113 years old in 2012,” Sokial said.

“There needs to be a conscious effort made by the local authorities to preserve Kota Kinabalu City’s history. A city that neglects its historical sites and buildings loses a lot of its attractions,” he said regarding the State capital that was established as Jesselton township in 1899.

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