Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

June 24, 2008

Singapore Master Plan: Achievements of the past 10 years

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Property Add Value,Regulators,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:59 am

THE Master Plan 2008 exhibition, launched at the URA Centre on May 23, is an important event for all here in the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Not only is it the fruit of many months of brainstorming, discussions with various stakeholders and plain hard work, it also gives us an opportunity to share our excitement about the plans for Singapore’s future development.

For those unfamiliar with the Master Plan, it is the statutory land use plan that URA develops to guide Singapore’s development over the next 10 to 15 years. The Master Plan is reviewed every five years, and details the land uses and development intensities for land parcels in Singapore. It translates broader, longer-term development strategies formulated as part of the Concept Plan, which is the plan that sets the direction for Singapore some 40 to 50 years ahead. Both the Concept Plan and Master Plan work to ensure that there is sufficient land to cater to Singapore’s future needs, while maintaining a good quality of living for our population.

The launch of the Master Plan 2008 exhibition marks a significant milestone in URA’s history. Ten years have passed since the completion of the URA’s 1998 Master Plan. Though Singapore’s first statutory Master Plan was completed way back in 1958, it was the 1998 Master Plan that took planning one step forward by clearly spelling out a vision for Singapore in years to come.

For the first time, each plot of land in Singapore had a specific planning intention and development strategy. Changes in the Master Plan now signalled changes in the future landscape, rather than changes in existing uses on the ground. With the 1998 revision, the Master Plan became the forward-looking plan that we are familiar with today, a plan which enables land owners to make decisions with greater certainty.

As we prepare to complete and gazette Master Plan 2008, it would be interesting to review how successful our past Master Plans have been.

New commercial centres

Over the past 10 years, Singapore has developed new areas for businesses to flourish. Our vision for Marina Bay as an expansion of our CBD is being transformed into reality, as we speak. New developments like the Esplanade Theatres by the Bay, One Fullerton, Marina Centre, The Sail, the Marina Bay Financial Centre have been realised within the decade.

Beyond development of the city centre, these 10 years have also seen the growth of other commercial hubs. The Tampines Regional Centre, Buona Vista Sub-regional Centre (now known as One-North) and the Novena Fringe Centre are three such centres outside of the city centre being developed.

Both Tampines and Novena are now bustling commercial centres, with a mix of offices, retail and entertainment facilities that cater to the needs of residents in the eastern part of Singapore. One-North is an established hub for research, and looks set to become home to a dynamic blend of commercial, residential and recreational uses.

Thanks to this strategy to develop new commercial centres outside the Central Area, businesses now have a variety of locations to choose from, which are more affordable than those found in the city centre and which are well-suited to back-offices.

Flexibility for businesses

Another pro-business move by URA over the past years is to introduce more flexibility for businesses through new zoning policies that take into account changing business needs. New business zones, Business 1 and Business 2, were proposed in the 2003 Master Plan. Under the new zoning system, industrial and business activities are grouped according to their impact on the surrounding environment. The new ‘impact-based’ zoning approach allows businesses to house different uses under one roof and change activities easily without re-zoning.

Similarly, Business Parks and Business Park White zones were introduced, which facilitated the development of Changi Business Park and International Business Park which are now key employment centres.

URA also introduced a new type of zoning – the White Zone – which allows for the development of a variety of different uses like commercial, residential and hotel within the zone. This gives the market greater flexibility and creativity in planning for developments that provide a mix of uses like residential and retail. Today, several successful and innovative developments have been built on white sites.

For example, Central at Clarke Quay, built on a white site, is not only a busy shopping centre, but also pioneers the ‘Small Office Home Office’ concept here in Singapore by offering custom-built offices that function as residential units as well. Another white site that was successfully developed is Square2 at Novena. This development seamlessly integrates a medical centre with a trendy mall, and strengthens Novena’s position as a medical hub. Similarly, the white site in Farrer Park which was awarded in 2007, will see the introduction of a ‘mediplex’, which combines a hospital, hotel and specialist medical centre.

Good quality of living

Singapore has experienced substantial population growth over the past 10 years, from 3.9 million in 1998 to 4.6 million today. New housing had to be provided. Across the island, new HDB towns like Sembawang, Sengkang and Punggol have sprouted up to cater to the housing needs of our growing population. Since 1998, there have been 170,000 new homes created. We have also created a variety of housing choices, such as waterfront housing in areas like Tanjong Rhu. Industries in Bukit Timah and Hillview have also been relocated since the 1990s, and replaced with high-quality residential developments.

Recreation and leisure

Beyond housing, URA has also planned for the recreation and leisure needs of our population. As part of the Master Plan 2003, URA drew up the Parks and Waterbodies Plan and Identity Plan. The Parks and Waterbodies Plan set out proposals for an islandwide network of parks and park connectors. The park connector network has been implemented in stages, with the 42 km-long Eastern Loop running through Bedok, Pasir Ris and Tampines being completed last year.

The Parks and Waterbodies Plan and the Identity Plan also set out our vision for various areas like the Southern Ridges. As part of the Master Plan 2003, there was a proposal to connect the three Southern Ridges for a nine-km walk. This vision for a beautiful walk through nature has become a reality. Today, the Southern Ridges are linked by two bridges and an elevated walkway and are now open to the public.

More nature areas and nature parks have been opened up, in a sensitive way, for public enjoyment. Examples include Chek Jawa where the National Parks Board has completed the boardwalk, and the boardwalks, observation tower and suspension bridge opened at MacRitchie Reservoir.

The past decade has also seen the revitalisation of areas like the Singapore River. Through URA’s land sales programme and environmental improvement works, the three quays of the river are now popular nightspots offering a array of entertainment and dining options for locals and tourists alike.

Conservation

It has not just been a decade of unrestrained urban development, however. Even as condominiums, shopping malls and office towers are being built, pockets of Singapore remain carefully shielded from the pressures of development. The Identity Plan, created as part of Master Plan 2003, set out to conserve historical areas and buildings that have a special place in our hearts. In the past decade, 1,200 additional buildings have been conserved, in areas like Holland Village, Joo Chiat and Tiong Bahru. These buildings not only help Singapore’s streetscape to remain distinctive, they also provide our people with physical anchors for shared memories.

The next 10 years

Going forward, the Master Plan 2008 looks to build on the good foundations set by the past Master Plans. This time, the focus is on providing great opportunities and a good life. We have plans to develop new areas like the Jurong Lake District, Paya Lebar Central, Kallang Riverside, as well as continue growing Marina Bay as a 24/7 live-work-play environment. Tanjong Pagar and the Beach Road/Ophir-Rochor corridor will also be developed as strategic gateways to the city centre.

We also have an extensive Leisure Plan, which showcases a diverse range of leisure opportunities around the clock, island-wide, for people of all ages.

Our city’s achievements and the garnering of international accolades in the past decade bear testament to the strength of the vision for Singapore. However, this vision was not created solely by URA. It was drawn up together with other government agencies, private sector representatives and various stakeholders through focus group discussions, public forums and dialogues.

More importantly, the transformation of the past 10 years was achieved through joint efforts by the public, private and people sectors. The draft Master Plan 2008 exhibition, open to the public until June 20, is an opportunity for URA to gather comments and suggestions on these plans that will shape the way we all live, work and play in the years to come. Together, we can make Singapore a home of choice, a magnet for business, an exciting playground and a place to cherish.

By CAROLINE SEAH, head of physical planning and policies at URA

Source : Business Times – 29 May 2008

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