Speech by Chief Minister of Penang
At The Launch of Community Park and Back Lanes at Lebuh Armenian
14 September 2017
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the launch of the community park at Lebuh Armenian.
This park is one of the very few open green spaces in the George Town World Heritage Site. This open space originated from a fire that destroyed a number of buildings in the late-19th century.
Over time, the space began to be used informally as a meeting and leisure space for residents of the neighbourhood. After two unsuccessful attempts, a formal reorganisation of the area as a garden took place in the 1990s.
Importance of Residential Population
After the listing of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, we kick-started the rejuvenation of the area with the restoration of the heritage building that is now the office of George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI).
Since then, we have been working with our partners at Think City and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and MBPP to plan for the transformation of the entire area.
Based on results from the survey, several designs for the park was presented to community members and stakeholders. The final design was based on feedback during this consultation session – it is, indeed, a park for the community.
The minimalistic design of the park was also a deliberate effort to enable full appreciation of the surrounding heritage buildings and the neighbourhood character.
I am also very proud to learn that this project has received a Merit Award by the Malaysian Institute of Planners.
Residents believe that the park led to significant improvements in walkability, community spirit, safety, noise levels, cleanliness and maintenance.
For example, 92% of the residents rated the cleanliness and maintenance of the area as good after the opening of the park and the upgrading of public amenities, compared to only 2% before.
With the improvement in pedestrian movement around Armenian Street, Cannon Street, and Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, this area (also known as the Malay Quarters) offers a welcome respite in the dynamic and stimulating city of George Town.
The community park in its current form is the culmination of a long process, from the initial community consultation started as early as 2011, with the final design completed in 2015. The park was completed in 2016. The back lanes were subsequently completed in June 2017.
Lebuh Armenian Integrated Programme
The community park is part of the wider Lebuh Armenian Integrated Programme, which also included work on the basketball court, the MBPP Youth Centre, and the upgrading of the adjacent back lanes.
As required for the George Town Special Area Plan, the back lanes adjacent to this park were paved using porous concrete.
The project went beyond visual improvements by exploring ways to eliminate leakages from pipes, introducing safer electrical cabling and greening the environment.
Thus far, Think City has contributed a total of RM2.5 million to the community park and the upgrading of the back lanes. MBPP has also contributed RM300,000 to the improvement of the back lanes.
The Lebuh Armenian Integrated Programme also includes the ongoing conservation work at the Syed al-Attas Mansion, which will function as a community space upon the completion of the conservation works, thanks to the commitment of the Mayor of MBPP.