Brief Scenario On Planning Structure In Malaysia

In any land policy, land use policy is an essential element. The planning process of a land use policy determines the value of a development. However, at the same time, it also causes uncertainty to the development process due to time delays, cost increases and unpredictable decisions (Cadman and Topping, 1995). These conditions result in higher development costs which in turn affect the financial viability of property development An effective land use planning policy strife towards sustainable development with quality of life as its prime objective whilst at the same time ensuring land use is based on economic principles to avoid prime land left to waste or being under-utilised (Usilappan, 2000).  Thus, in this way, planning is actually a powerful intermediary that is able to balance the primary objective of profit making a developer with the primary objective of looking out for the public interest in fulfilling social duty of a public sector.

Planning policies are formulated and spelt out in structure plans (macro planning) which are local government’s statements outlining development strategies and broad general statements giving directions of the development and the objectives. Once a structure plan is approved, it is on the onus of the concerned local authority to follow up with micro-planning in the form of local plan and to keep monitoring and reviewing the plans when and where necessary.

In Malaysia the planning structure and its authoritative power is provided for by law via three acts namely the Local Government Act (Act 171) 1976 which defines and specifies the jurisdiction and responsibility of the local government, the Town And Country Planning Act (Act 172), 1976 and Amendment 1995 which creates the local authority as the local planning authority who has to investigate, formulate the local development plans for the area under its jurisdiction and responsible in processing and approving all the development applications, and the Street, Drainage and Building Act (Act 133) 174 which standardizes the laws regarding roads, drainage and building for all states in West Malaysia. For the city of Kuala Lumpur, the planning structure and policies are also governed by the Wilayah Persekutuan Planning Act 1982 (Act 276) which concerns the structure and local planning systems for Kuala Lumpur City.

Planning tools utilized by the town planning department or local authority such as DBKL in considering and deciding on an application of development on planning approval are identified as follows (Abd Rahim Md Yunus, 2001) :

  1. land use zoning – determines the category of land use allowed
  2. population density – determines the intensity of a development
  3. plot ratio – determines the intensity of floor area of a development site
  4. plinth area – determines the percentage of the built-up area in relation to the land area
  5. building height – determines the height of building
  6. building setback – determines the minimum area from the lot boundary to the roof edge of building
  7. provision for vacant space – ensures the provision of a recreational area in a development
  8. parking requirement – ensures provision of adequate parking in a development
  9. development charge – this is tax for any increase in value
  10. improvement service fund – additional cost in cases of road and drainage repair due to development
  11. state/federal government policy

The planning tools are used by planning authority to control land development in its power and responsibility to safeguard public interest.  In this instance, there is a delicate situation whereby part of planning authority’s responsibility is also to encourage development meant for the betterment of the public and community as whole. Thus planning authority must ensure that the planning tools in as much as controlling a development to safeguard public interest not be adversely affected by the development, must also be a driving factor in encouraging development which at the end is meant to be used and enjoyed by the public itself.  

Written by;
Sr Nik Nazariah binti Nik Jaafar
MSc. Land Administration & Development (UTM)
Registered Valuer & Associate Director – Nilai Harta Consultant Sdn Bhd