Proposed Demolition of 457 Burmah Road
Penang Heritage Trust is gravely concerned with the application from the owner of Lot 2334, Sek 1, Bandar Georgetown to demolish a grand heritage building at 457 Burmah Rd.
The building has significant architectural values and a unique education history in Penang that deserve a comprehensive conservation protection by the authorities. Its rich ornamental design typifies a superb example of the “Straits Eclectic” styled grand mansion built in the early 20th century which has become rare in Penang nowadays.
While efforts to research into the first owner are underway and of whom we believe to be a prominent figure in Penang, we have uncovered from historical records which indicated the building was actually used by the Lasalle Brothers of St. Xavier’s Primary School as a boarding house for an extensive period till 1977 when Uplands School moved from Penang Hill to occupy this building and continued its mission as an education centre until 1987. Uplands School moved on to another location at St. Joseph Novitiate at Kelawai Rd when its growing student number called for a bigger space.
It is our understanding that the said building has been listed under the Category II for Conservation Order well before any plan to develop or demolition had been submitted. When a development plan was submitted subsequently for 2 highrise tower blocs right in front of the old building, it was approved without proper consideration for the living density and traffic flow capacity at that section of Jalan Burmah which lines Convent P Tikus School, a Catholic church, Adventist Hospital, Berjaya Hotel and the One-Stop Shopping complex . The imposition of huge modern highrise adjoining a heritage building is an absolute architectural mismatch and unsympathetic to the vista of the surrounding.
Any approval to allow the further destruction of the site including the demolition of a classified heritage building will be seen by the public as an aberration of law and disrespect to the conservation efforts which the State government has put in.