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Malaysia Property Boosted By World Heritage Tag

July 13, 2009Article by Ray Withers

Malaysian property investment picked up a big boost with news that UNESCO is keeping Georgetown on the resort isle of Penang on the list of World Heritage Sites after a row about developing high-rise hotels.Both sides acted sheepishly over the spat – the Malay government had given the go-ahead to building the hotels before UNESCO added the island to the prestigious list of heritage sites.At the heart of the disagreement was the height of the new buildings.

UNESCO retains ‘quality control’ over heritage sites while the designation makes them more attractive to developers wanting to market hotels and resorts.The rules say new buildings must not exceed 18 metres – which the new hotels breached.On the one hand the Malay government wanted to keep UNESCO happy because they coveted the World Heritage badge that comes with a package of grants and a boost to tourism.

On the other, the government feared the developers would sue if planning permissions were rescinded after officially being granted.

After a bout of tense negotiating between the Malay government, UNESCO and the developers, an agreement was reached.The hotels will be built – but will not exceed five stories to meet the UNESCO rules and Georgetown will retain the world heritage site status.The deal was thrashed out at a UNESCO meeting in Seville, SpainPenang’s chief minister, Lim Guan Eng, wrote to UNESCO with an assurance that the developers would comply with the guidelines.

UNESCO added Georgetown and Malaysia’s southern city of Melaka to the World Heritage list last year, saying both ‘constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.’
The deal is good news for Malaysian property because the world heritage tag not only boosts property prices in Georgetown and Melaka, but the capital Kuala Lumpur too, which is the airport gateway to the country.

Tourists often take a two or three hop holiday to Malaysia too – taking in Penang, and Kuala Lumpur and often border hopping to nearby Singapore.Typical investments include a range of apartments in Kuala Lumpur, just a few minutes travelling distance from the business district and city centre a portfolio offered by UK based international property consultants Property Frontiers:

Axis Pandan

Axis Pandan is two major developments – the midmarket Axis Residence Deluxe Kuala Lumpur, a 33-storey serviced apartment block including pools, gym and a sky lounge and the top-of-the –market Axis Crown Premier, Kuala Lumpur offering luxury living in a prime location with fantastic views over the city centre and the Royal Selangor golf club.

The street levels of the blocks house the region’s largest shopping mall.

All apartments are delivered in a ‘ready-to-let’ offering gross yields of more than 8% and with 60% loan-to-value mortgages. Investments are available for just £19,000 cash plus purchase costs. Prices start at £50,000 for a two-bedroom apartment.


Ray Withers

Ray has over 17 years’ experience in the international property market and bought his own first international property investment back in 2002. Aside from running Property Frontiers, Ray has been involved in residential, hotel, student and commercial property investment and development in both the UK and overseas and co-wrote "Where to Buy Property Abroad - An Investor's Guide". As Founder and Trustee of the Frontiers Foundation, Ray is directly involved with many of its projects to ensure they have a direct and tangible impact in individual communities across the globe. He is passionate about property, travelling, scouting out new opportunities and finding time to spend with his young family.
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