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Abg Jo: Gated communities must be regulated

BINTULU: The Gated and Guarded Community (Gacos) concept in the state needs to be properly regulated.

Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said as such the concept, which is still new in Sarawak, requires closer study.

“We have received applications from housing developers whose projects also include such gated and guarded community schemes.

“However unfortunately there is no specific law on such kind of development in Sarawak yet. We see this shortcoming as more and more gated and guarded communities have sprouted up especially in urban areas,” he said in his presentation on urban property development and redevelopment in Sarawak hosted by the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Tuesday.

He said a series of study trips were initiated to Johor Bahru, Singapore and Australia to learn the various possible models that could be emulated for such developments in Sarawak.

The ministry, he said, has conducted two lab sessions with the relevant stakeholders such as the State Planning Authority (SPA), Land and Survey Department, Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment, Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, city councils, professional bodies and Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda).

“Therefore in this context, my ministry will continue to work closely with other stakeholders including the Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment, State Attorney General’s Office and local authorities to study in depth the various options and approaches on how best to regulate the development of Gacos in Sarawak,” he said.

Given the complexity of the issue and various legal and technical implications involved, he said the study would need more time before a proposal can be finalised.

“We will also engage Sheda and other industry players in this process to ensure the new legal framework suits the needs of the industry,” he added.

Johari said based on the findings from the lab sessions and study visits, several options have been identified to address these issues.

One example that could be considered, he said, is Australia’s community title or group title scheme which has shown to be more accommodative and flexible compared to the strata approach.

This concept can easily accommodate complex mixed developments comprising of apartments, bungalows, club houses, offices and commercial units, he said. He added that apartment or any ‘layered’ property would be issued with strata titles while landed property would be issued with land titles.

“There is a clear-cut to the definition of titles and it has proven to be a success and welcome approach to new developments in Australia.

“It offers great flexibility in planning and opportunity to engage community participation to the degree much neglected in estate planning of the past,” he said.

He explained that an existing gated community consisting of 10 bungalows and one block of flats could retain their respective land and strata titles, while the common access areas such as the open space, access road and drains inside the gated area shall be vested to the maintenance of the community.-BP