GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has assured the historic Soonstead Mansion at Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah here will not be demolished to make way for development. State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow dismissed allegations the building will be torn down. He said the proposed hotel would be built behind the mansion which is located by the seaside. He said the developer had submitted the planning application in February to restore the mansion and to build the hotel. “The mansion will not be torn down,” he stressed at a press conference today. Chow’s assurance comes after Penang Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong urged the state to come clean over developments plans for the site. The proposed project is for a 13-storey hotel with 97 rooms and three levels for parking. The neo-classical style building was built around 1910 by rubber and sugar magnate Heah Swee Lee and was named Northam Lodge before it was sold to the Soon family and renamed Soonstead. In a separate development, Chow said, a committee will start mapping water catchment areas in Bukit Laksamana until Sungai Pinang in Balik Pulau. He said this was part of the process to ensure illegal earthworks done at the site can be stopped and dismissed allegations chalets will be built there.