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Study needed to understand gated trend

23/08/2004 The Star

LET me comment on Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting's statement on gated communities, Concern over gated housing projects "The Star, Aug 20).

I am glad the Housing and Local Government Minister is very concerned about the latest development in the real estate and housing sector.

However, it is imperative that gated communities should not be viewed as purely a social or housing concern; it is a “disturbing” feature in the urban landscape from the point of view of social and physical planning.

Evidently, these gated and guarded residential developments are now becoming an increasingly common feature in the landscape of Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Region (KLMR). Why is this so?

There are three main types of gated development: the recreation-oriented “lifestyle community,” the upper-income “elite community” and the barricaded “security zone community.”

Despite their differences, gated communities share common roots in fear of the “other.”

Theoretically, gated development provides an image of security, safety and privacy and developers and estate agents are keen to emphasise these benefits as part of their marketing strategy and there is a perception within the profession that buyers and tenants are prepared to pay premium prices for such facilities,

However, there is little in the way of conclusive evidence that gating does reduce crime. If real estate developers are allowed to continue to develop gated communities, the result would be marked spatial segregation and social exclusion in our cities.

Arguably, even without gated communities our cities have already been characterised by socio-spatial segregation and division. These developments will make social and physical planning in cities all the more difficult.

What are the policies of the local planning authorities with regard to gated developments in the context of the issues I have raised?

One could argue that gated developments in the KLMR is contrary to the government's commitment to socially balanced and sustainable communities.

Ong is right. A comprehensive study must be undertaken to understand this “disturbing” feature in the urban (social and physical) landscape of Malaysia.

Once we comprehend the situation, intervention strategies should then be put in place.

National Geography Association, Malaysia, Penang.
(via e-mail)


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