Higher density will be a reality for all Malaysian cities, I believe

I was reminded in an article that the density in Penang used to be 30 units per acre but has been increased to 87 units per acre and would be 128 units per acre in future. Full article here. The density in KL? Well here’s an earlier article. Higher plot ratio better,right? Yes, DBKL is also pushing towards higher-density when some of the requirements are met. I do not think a city can be vibrant if the density is low and only the rich could afford to stay within the city. Of course, when it gets way too expensive, then the daytime population and the evening population vary tremendously. For example, the population for Jakarta in the evening is only 10.1 million while the daytime population is over 11 million. Read here to understand more. The Jakarta Post. 
So, what should be the right density? The existing population for a certain popular area would reply, ‘the lower the better.’ We hate noises, pollution and congestion. The ones who could now afford a place in the same area would say, ‘More affordable units please. This area does not belong to only the existing population.’  The local council? Headache lah….Of course, land matters are under the purview of the state government, thus perhaps better town planning is needed. Please use Decision Science and not Political Science…. (Favourite phrase of one of my MBA lecturer about how decisions are made in one country)
What’s most important however is not a debate on whether higher density is warranted. The reason is very simple. Everyone wants to stay in places where everyone wanted to stay in the first place. That’s the reason why prices for these would always rise faster than other unpopular areas. Truth is, there are still lots of land in mainland and prices are definitely lower than those within the island, especially the hotspots. When the demand increases, the supply would follow and this is the reason why developers would buy land to develop high-rise units or even buy up existing buildings and rebuild / redevelop. This does not happen only in Penang but also in the Klang Valley. More importantly, are there an upgrade of existing infrastructure? For example, would water / electricity be disrupted? What about the potential for flash floods? Would there be crazy jams? Are there enough schools? Public spaces MUST be optimised so that it can serve more. If the answer is positive to all these questions, I think the density approval should continue to be given. In fact, learning from Singapore may be a very good benchmark for Penang. Here’s 10 of their principles for Liveable High-Density Cities. Very good reading!  I have no doubt that higher-density will become more common in future. The question is always, are we ready for Liveable Higher-Density?
written on 9 Mar 2017
Next suggested article: Low density is NOT luxurious, ok?  


  1. Decision Science and not political science?
    Charles, I think we should not be naive to say that decisions must be apolitical. No way.
    For any city to expand both in size and intensity when populations grow, city planners would adjust the plot ratios accordingly. If intensity is not perpetually adjusted to cater for these growth, Klang Valley would have many attap and zinc houses to retard progress. Relocating people is usually a difficult and often an emotional affair for many people. Adequate monetary compensation is the best answer.
    Do you know that many millionaires are made when rezoning ( e.g from agriculture to residential land)or increase in plot ratio( for residential) takes place? Assuming you own a landed freehold property of 10,000sf. in the centre of Klang Valley and your good friend in city planning like you enough to increase the plot ratio there to be eligible to build 40-storey high buildings, overnight you will be a millionaire, together with all your neighbors within the rezoning of course. Haha…so you tell me it is decision science!

    1. Haha. Great views Fred. I think I better buy a piece of land n wait.

  2. […] I would think the number of units could easily be more than double due to the technology today. Build higher. Perhaps the number one thing is to have the legal side sorted out. Else, the potential returns may […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *