Published 15 April 2011
The Business Times
By Uma Shankari
The government will boost Singapore’s housing stock in tandem with the growth in population and expand towns such as Punggol, Sengkang, Yishun and Choa Chu Kang over the next 40 to 50 years, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said yesterday.
‘Our current towns will be redeveloped and expanded to provide affordable and good quality housing in popular areas like Punggol, Sengkang, Yishun and Choa Chu Kang,’ Mr Mah said. ‘Beyond the medium term, we will also open up new towns in areas such as Tengah.’
Mr Mah, who was speaking at a seminar organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), was giving industry players a peek at the Concept Plan 2011. The Concept Plan will be officially unveiled in the fourth quarter of this year. It will chart plans for land use and infrastructure development in Singapore over the next 40 to 50 years.
In addition to boosting housing supply, the government also plans to bring jobs closer to homes by having more equal job-to-worker distribution across the island.
More housing will be injected into the Central and the West regions of Singapore, where currently there are proportionately more jobs than homes. At the same time, the government will also put more commercial and industrial activities in the North and North-East, where there are currently more homes than jobs.
‘Re-balancing the job-worker distribution will not resolve all our traffic issues, but it will take some stress off our transport networks and reduce commuting times,’ Mr Mah said.
There are also plans to concentrate higher density housing around transport nodes, so that more people will benefit from direct access to public transportation.
Giving one example, Mr Mah said that his ministry could add more than 10,000 HDB flats and private homes in vacant land around three MRT stations – Bishan, Commonwealth and Queenstown – in the next decade and beyond. These homes will be high-rise developments of more than 30 storeys.
‘Higher density housing can bring greater economies of scale, and support the development of more amenities in close proximity to homes,’ Mr Mah said. ‘As we build up our towns, we will expand our transport infrastructure, especially our rail network.’
Analysts said that the government is likely to increase the plot ratios for residential land in Singapore’s Central regions and near MRT stations.
‘In towns such as Punggol, Sengkang and in the West, there is still quite a bit of land left for development,’ said Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng. ‘But around MRT stations and in the Central regions, residential plot ratios are likely to go up.’
A developer BT spoke to also said that residential plot ratios look set to be increased in the coming years. He added that he hopes the government will boost plot ratios for both private and public land.
In his speech yesterday, Mr Mah added that leisure options and greenery will be expanded.
The government will also take into account Singapore’s ageing population in planning for various facilities such as healthcare, housing and social facilities at the national level. It will also review town planning strategies to facilitate ageing in place, he said.