More BTO flats in mature towns: Khaw

Published 31 May 2011
The Business Times
By Emilyn Yap

Govt hopes to help young couples wanting to live near their parents

THE Housing and Development Board (HDB) could be launching more new flats in mature estates next year to help young couples live near their parents, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

More BTO flats in mature towns: KhawHe revealed this in a post on his Housing Matters blog, noting that application rates for bigger flats in build-to-order (BTO) projects in Tampines – launched just four days ago – have been high.

Flats in mature estates such as Tampines tend to be more popular because of well-developed transport networks and amenities in these towns.

Last Friday, HDB rolled out close to 4,000 new BTO flats across four estates, including Tampines and Pasir Ris. ‘So far, nearly 8,000 have applied,’ Mr Khaw said. ‘The projects in Tampines are the most popular with high application rates for the four and five-room flats.’

New flats in mature estates are more attractive as many couples would like to live near their parents, he said. This is also the first time in recent years that BTO flats have been launched in Tampines.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) ‘has been rather reluctant to launch BTO in mature estates as it worries that such popular launches would attract high subscription rates, further alarming the market’, Mr Khaw said.

He acknowledged that this is a valid concern, but Singaporeans understand that mature estates are popular, he said. ‘We should not be daunted by such a prospect, but should instead try to meet the aspirations of many young couples wanting to set up nests near their parents.’

A large number of BTO flats have been launched in newer towns such as Sengkang and Punggol. Queenstown, a mature estate, saw the introduction of two BTO projects in December 2009.

‘I have asked HDB to look into more mature estates as possibilities. It is too late to prepare suitable sites for this year, but we should be able to put up some for next year’s BTO,’ Mr Khaw said. As some of the new sites would be near existing flats, ‘I hope residents will bear with the construction’.

While more flats in mature estates are on the way, competition for them will be high and young couples will have a better chance of securing units in new towns, he added.

MND has been actively addressing housing concerns. Last Friday, Mr Khaw said that HDB will release more BTO units this year and start building in anticipation of demand.

PropNex CEO Mohamed Ismail welcomed the moves, but added that it would be good for MND to give a full picture of flat availability in both new and mature estates. This will help home seekers decide if they should apply for flats now or later, he said.

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