Council confiscates items after stop work order on heritage site ignored

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Unique walls of Penang’s Customs building hacked without approval.

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The interior of the Customs building, formerly known as the Malayan Railway building, in ruins after it was hacked for renovation without council approval. (George Town Heritage Action pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has confiscated construction materials and equipment after a contractor was found renovating a heritage building illegally.

The council said it had checked on the Customs building at China Street Ghaut on Sunday and found that renovations were being done without approval.

It checked on the site again on Monday to ensure there was no construction work being carried out, and this was reported to George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) and the state heritage commissioner’s office.

“On Tuesday, we issued a notice under Section 79 of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974, which requires the contractor to stop work immediately because we found that the contractor was still operating.

“We then proceeded to confiscate building materials and equipment from the site on the same day,” it said in a statement.

The council said checks yesterday found that there was no longer any work being done on the site.

FMT reported today that the Customs building, formerly known as the Malayan Railway building, was in ruins after its interior was hacked by a contractor over the weekend.

The building is an example of early 20th century colonial architecture, and features a striking facade with a blend of European and Asian designs.

It has been marked as a Category I heritage building under the latest George Town World Heritage Site Special Area Plan draft, meaning it cannot be altered in any way.

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