Penang must protect its heritage buildings, says activist

GEORGE TOWN: If Penang considers itself a heritage state, it must show the political will to protect heritage buildings.

Commenting on the recent demolition of several ancillary buildings on the Runneymade property in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Mark Lay the co-founder of the George Town Heritage Action group, said the developer clearly understood the significant value of the building as it was once the residence of Sir Stamford Raffles.

He expressed disappointment with the response of the state government who said they had no authority to prevent the demolition.

"They could have used the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 and the Penang Heritage Enactment 2011 which has been gazetted, but it has yet to be implemented," he told reporters today.

In response to the demolition which resulted in an outcry by heritage activists, the state government said it had no option but to allow the demolition because it was in accordance with the planning permission granted to the developer by the then Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) in 1999.

When asked if Runnymede Hotel could be rebuilt to restore its value, Lay said the developer could rebuild a replica of the hotel.

"It is good for the developer as well to build a replica, it can be a selling point to attract more customers," he said.

Runnymede was built in 1807, it was destroyed in a fire in 1901 and a hotel was built on the site in the 1930s.