Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

August 7, 2008

JTC launches tender to develop hotel, retail shops

Filed under: Commercial,General,Hotel,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:00 am

This will add vibrancy to Changi Business Park, offer business travellers options

IN A Singapore first, the fast-growing Changi Business Park (CBP) is set to boast a hotel and retail outlets alongside the hubbub of enterprise.

A move yesterday by industrial landlord JTC Corp to invite developers to inject vibrancy into CBP with the novel development was warmly welcomed by the property market.


 
The 4.7ha site on offer, next to Singapore Expo, will include a business park’s regular features, such as an industrial space for high-tech and research and development firms.

JTC, however, yesterday asked that the proposals – which are to cover price and concept – should also include plans to develop a hotel and retail outlets. This is the first such project for a business park in Singapore.

It means business travellers attending exhibitions and conventions in the east will soon be able to rest and relax at CBP rather than heading elsewhere in town.

JTC said it expected CBP’s population of 6,000 to surge to 20,000 by 2011.

Mr Dominic Peters, the director of industrial services at property advisory firm Savills Singapore, said: ‘There is currently no retail component in and around CBP; just mere amenities like F&B outlets. A hotel and retail mixture will create some vibrancy in the evenings in and around the Changi area… The response for tenders should be overwhelming.’

The site will yield a gross floor area of 117,515 sq m, 40 per cent of which has been designated for commercial activities. About 45 per cent to 60 per cent of the area designated for commercial activities can be used for retail, leaving a floor area of 18,800 sq m to 25,900 sq m for a hotel.

Bids for the site could be in the region of a few hundred million dollars, some consultants said.

JTC has said it is catering to the rising demand for business park space and amenities in CBP.

CBP, launched in July 1997 and covering 66ha, houses a mix of high-tech, data and software enterprises, and R&D and knowledge-intensive outfits like IBM and Honeywell. It is also fast-becoming a hub for financial backroom operations, with Citibank, Credit Suisse, DBS Group Holdings and OCBC Bank poised to set up there.

Said a JTC spokesman: ‘The hotel component is a must and should be at least a three-star one catering to the business traveller.’

This is good news for CBP’s neighbour, Singapore Expo, just across Changi South Avenue 1.

A spokesman for Singex Venues said all 10 halls and 100,000 sq m of the Singapore Expo had been sold out through this month, citing the burgeoning meetings, incentive trips, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) industry.

A business hotel over the road could help meet this demand, as the country’s hotels have estimated that over 20 per cent of room revenue last year was from Mice visitors.

Said Mr Keith Oliver, the general manager of Singapore Expo: ‘The hotels will be good for our overseas exhibitors and visitors, who will find the proximity a great convenience.’

Interested developers have up to Aug 19 this year to submit their proposals for the tender.

LIVELIER MIX

‘A hotel and retail mixture will create some vibrancy in the evenings in and around the Changi area… The response for tenders should be overwhelming.’ – MR PETERS, of Savills Singapore, on the likely impact of developing a hotel and retail outlets in CBP

Source : Straits Times – 12 Jun 2008

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July 10, 2008

PM Lee highlights JTC’s new focus and priority

Filed under: Commercial,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:15 am

Into its 40th year, JTC Corporation will be shifting its focus to industrial master-planning and strategic projects by selling assets in the flatted factories and business park segments, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at its anniversary dinner yesterday.

PM Lee highlighted the organisation’s evolving role as competition from rapidly emerging economies intensifies. From building and managing industrial facilities, JTC will now turn its attention to master-planning industrial estates, allocating land for industries and preparing land with the right configuration of facilities.

‘JTC’s priority is to meet the industrial land and infrastructure needs of existing and emerging industry clusters, be it the chemical companies at Jurong Island, the pharmaceutical players at Tuas Biomedical Park, or the new aerospace hub at Seletar,’ he said.

To take on these tasks, JTC will divest its flatted factory and business park assets substantially – it is selling its ready-built industrial facilities to Mapletree at the end of this month.

The private sector will play a greater part in developing these market segments instead. ‘Private developers like Boustead, Mapletree, Soilbuild and United Engineers have built up considerable expertise in flatted factories and business parks, and are well able to meet industry demands,’ said PM Lee.

Just last Monday, Soilbuild Group Holdings clinched a JTC award to build, own and operate a business facility at Tanjong Kling.

In turn, JTC will focus on filling market gaps. It is already involved in special projects which the private sector may find too large, risky or complex to handle, although they may foster future economic growth. The one-north development for the media, life sciences and infocomm industries is one such example.

Another challenge for JTC is to create more usable space to maximise the country’s economic potential. ‘Land will always be scarce in Singapore, but with human creativity and ingenuity, we can find new ways to do more with the limited amount of land we have,’ PM Lee said.

Such plans are already in the works. JTC is studying the use of very large floating structures out at sea for the storage of petrochemicals and oil products. It is also exploring the feasibility of increasing water depths around Tuas View to create more usable industrial waterfront land.

According to PM Lee, manufacturing remains an important growth engine for Singapore. Having done well in shaping the industrial landscape, JTC will have to remain dynamic to sustain the sector’s competitiveness.

JTC chairman Cedric Foo said the organisation will conduct a strategic review exercise to meet the new challenges.

Around 600 of JTC’s clients, partners and former management attended the dinner yesterday. Long-time customer Natsteel Asia, which leases about 38ha of land, appreciates the agency’s support over the years.

Natsteel’s senior vice-president of systems operations Eng Poh Tzan also hopes that JTC will keep land rentals affordable to help businesses.

Source : Business Times – 7 Jun 2008

JTC quietly works its magic to help Singapore stay ahead

Filed under: General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:12 am

SHIFTING land boundaries, realigning highways and diverting live pipelines – these dramatic moves are all in a day’s work for JTC Corporation.

Quite ambitious for what many see as just a staid government agency.

But as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pointed out last night, Singapore’s largest industrial landlord has plenty of strings to its bow that go far beyond creating business clusters such as one-north at Buona Vista and Jurong Island.

Mr Lee said at JTC’s 40th anniversary dinner that the agency had also worked its behind-the-scenes magic to change the landscape to suit investors’ demands.

Its proactive work has, in turn, enabled Singapore to bag multibillion-dollar deals such as the world’s biggest solar plant, said the Prime Minister, who was the guest of honour at the Shangri-La Hotel function.

He went on to praise JTC for being ‘dynamic and vigorous’ in constantly upgrading itself to meet the changing needs of investors.

Mr Lee also lauded the agency’s recent move to sell its flatted factories and business parks, saying this would allow it to focus on its core functions of planning industrial estates and allocating industrial land.

But he warned that new challenges lay ahead for JTC and for Singapore.

‘Countries are vying more aggressively for investment projects than ever before,’ he said in a speech to more than 500 JTC clients and partners.

This has made it difficult for developed economies like Singapore to sustain manufacturing sectors, he added.

Singapore is trying to attract firms into taking part in new businesses such as research and development, product design and marketing, and JTC must support this effort by making it easy for investors to operate here.

Another task is to create more usable space in land-scarce Singapore. JTC has already begun work on innovative ideas such as the Jurong Rock Cavern, an underground oil storage facility, as well as very large floating structures to use ocean space.

Above all, JTC must stay nimble to take on new and unexpected challenges as they emerge, Mr Lee concluded.

One way JTC is dealing with this is through an internal review exercise, said chairman Cedric Foo last night. This will focus on maximising land resources, energising the industrial property market and undertaking projects that are too large-scale or specialised for the private sector.

So far, the agency’s record has been one of success.

JTC began life in 1968 as Jurong Town Corporation, founded to develop Jurong Industrial Estate – a risky project to turn the marshy jungle of Jurong into a modern industrial hub.

The estate had a slow start and was dubbed ‘Goh’s folly’ after Dr Goh Keng Swee, who initiated the project. Few entrepreneurs were willing to invest in Jurong at first, but it eventually attracted huge foreign investment.

This triumph stems partly from JTC’s ‘pioneering spirit and courage’, said Mr Ong Geok Soo, who has been with the agency for 38 years and is now its assistant chief executive.

But he admitted that the challenges JTC now faces ‘have become more intense because of increased competition’.

One such challenge is rising costs, according to Mr Eng Poh Tzan, the senior vice-president of NatSteel Asia, one of JTC’s longstanding customers.

He applauded JTC’s customer service, but said he wanted the agency to keep rentals affordable. NatSteel Asia leases about 38ha from JTC.

Mr Ong replied that JTC had to ‘look at the market rates’, but emphasised that ‘we are still below market costs as a whole’.

Source : Straits Times – 7 Jun 2008

July 8, 2008

Capturing vitality and chaos to make a great city

Filed under: General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:54 am

FOR the past 40 years, Mr Ng Mun Chee has wrapped his mind and fingers around almost every single building in Singapore.

Trained in technical drawing at Queenstown Secondary Technical School, the 58-year-old is one of four core members in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) model-making team.

He started out building models of HDB flats. ‘Last time it was all block architecture, quite straightforward,’ he says. ‘Nowadays, it takes a longer time to do a model. Buildings here have become a lot more complicated.’

As the local skyline took shape, he planted diminutive versions of new skyscrapers onto scaled-down versions of Singapore. The angular contours of the UOB Centre and the Bank Of China building were particularly difficult to render, he remembers.

In a storeroom somewhere in the URA Centre, models of defunct buildings, like the pre-restoration Cathay cinema, still stand – the last traces of their life-size counterparts.

‘We try to keep as many as possible. At least they can still bring back memories.’ But it is the ceaseless appearance of new structures, like the upcoming integrated resorts, that hold more interest for him, says Mr Ng.

Evidence of his handiwork can be found in the current exhibition at the URA Centre, which displays four models of Singapore, illustrating the latest development plans announced in the Draft Master Plan 2008 last month.

Some of the major changes that will take place over the next decade or so include the development of Jurong Lake District, Kallang Riverside and Paya Lebar Central as new commercial hubs, as well as the addition of 900ha of new park space and 260km of park connectors for leisure activities.

Like the shimmery, ghostly hues of most artist impressions of as-yet-unbuilt structures, the imagined future developments on the exhibition models have a fantastical quality to them.

Existing buildings are represented by models built from a locally available balsa wood. But those that do not yet exist are constructed with hundreds of pieces of translucent acrylic glass.

These imminent towers stand along cork roads and sandpaper beaches, many topped with tufts of green (sky gardens, in real life). Some in the Jurong and Paya Lebar models are lit from underneath, exuding a sort of futuristic glow.

The aim, says Ms Yap Lay Bee, URA’s head of urban design, is to engage and excite the public with these illustrations of development plans, to ’spark their imagination’.

Indeed, contemplating these miniature versions of Singapore is one way to digest how rapidly this little red dot is morphing into its next incarnation.

With these ambitious plans, Singapore continues, along with other nations, in the race to join the league of extraordinary cities, a race in which the stakes are the attraction of capital and talent essential for continued success.

One of the most high-profile contenders in this race is Abu Dhabi, which will soon boast a collection of buildings designed by prestigious names like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

The primary lure for these star architects, writes Christopher Hawthorne of Conde Nast Traveller magazine, is ‘the pure tabula rasa potential – the rare chance to design huge, innovative buildings’ with virtually no budget, conservation and environmental restraints.

The result, he posits, is ‘a kind of dreamland – not a place in which to grapple with the complexities of contemporary cities but to leave them behind’.

Similar things have been said of Singapore’s urban development.

In a 2004 paper, architect William S.W. Lim wrote: ‘Critics have, with mounting frequency, lamented that the visual environment has in fact no context, landscape, scale or sense of history…The devastating effects of modernist planning, major rehousing and redevelopment have left Singapore with little more than a manufactured, over-regulated, glossy and tidy image of a city. In the process, it was stripped bare of vitality, complexity and chaos.’

But one could argue that, slowly and surely, the tide is turning.

Advocacy groups like the Singapore Heritage Society and the Nature Society have, over the years, succeeded in efforts to conserve significant parts of Singapore’s built and natural heritage.

To date, close to 7,000 buildings in Singapore have been conserved under URA’s conservation scheme.

And many of the lifestyle and leisure projects announced under the latest Draft Master Plan are updates on the Identity plan first launched in 2002.

Under this scheme, 15 areas such as Joo Chiat and Balestier were earmarked for enhancements, like more parking spaces and pedestrian walkways.

The aim: to retain exactly the sort of ‘vitality, complexity and chaos’ that was once so easily discarded for efficiency’s sake.

Some may carp that this is too little, too late. But surely the gradual realisation that this is not a blank slate, but rather a place already layered with shared histories, comes better late than never.

So much of what makes a city great is intangible. Plot ratio and design briefs are part of it, but less predictable is the fashion in which residents interact with these planned spaces – how they inhabit, change and grow to love their own corners of a teeming metropolis.

For a generation that grew up in a land of perfectly spaced trees and perpetual construction, it may not be the sparkling acrylic skyscrapers in the new development models that fascinate. Rather, it is what remains, after more than 40 years of nation-building, that may prove compelling reasons to engage in the next 40.

——————————————————————————–

The gradual realisation that this is not a blank slate, but rather a place already layered with shared histories, comes better late than never.

Source : Straits Times – 6 Jun 2008

Jurong Island underground caverns run into delays

Filed under: Commercial,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:33 am

The $700 million first phase of the project to store oil in underground caverns beneath Jurong Island has been held up, with full-blown construction now expected to start at the end of this year or early 2009.

The hold-up surfaced when JTC Corporation called this week for tenders for an insurer to cover the design and construction of the first phase, comprising five caverns to hold 1.485 million cubic metres of crude oil, naphtha, condensate and gas oil.

Government agencies here usually appoint insurers ahead of construction of major underground projects – especially one this big that involves several parties. So far, construction is under way on two 130-metre vertical shafts to allow surface access to build and operate the caverns.

Tenders for construction proper – called last November – are still being evaluated, a JTC spokesman said yesterday. And the indications are that an award may be made only at year-end.

Sources suggest JTC needs more time to evaluate the tenders, given the demanding design and engineering requirements.

Still, the delay is a surprise, given that JTC indicated in a pre-qualifying tender in April last year that it expected the first two of the Phase 1 caverns to be operating by December 2010. Sources say despite the hold-up, JTC still wants to meet this target date, though it will be difficult to do so.

The market for oil storage is clearly not a reason for the delay. There is no lack of demand or excess capacity here, despite new players like Emirates National Oil Company and Hin Leong’s Universal Terminal starting up recently.

‘Demand for oil storage in Singapore is still strong,’ an industry official told BT. ‘Everyone is running full, including the new tank farms.’

JTC said last year there was strong interest in the underground storage caverns. An official said in October that Jurong Aromatics Corporation, which plans a US$2 billion complex here, will be one of the first customers.

Industry observers feel the initial delay may be due more to technical or construction issues – like competition for engineering/construction expertise amid the local building boom, including the construction of two big petrochemical complexes on Jurong Island and the two integrated resorts (IRs).

Four of the five Phase 1 rock caverns will store 330,000 cu m each, and the fifth 165,000 cu m.

The caverns and associated tunnels will be constructed by drilling and blasting sedimentary rock, JTC has said.

In all, Phase 1 involves ‘about 7km galleries and tunnels for an excavated volume of about 2.5 million cu m beneath Banyan Basin’, it said.

A planned Phase 2, adding another 1.3 million cu m of storage, would double the project’s capacity.

Source : Business Times – 5 Jun 2008

July 2, 2008

Canopy design adheres to heritage guidelines

Filed under: General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:28 am

WE THANK Mr Loke Hoe Kit for his letter on Monday, ‘Canopy doesn’t do old Supreme Court justice’.

A key requirement for all entries to the architectural design competition for the National Art Gallery (working title) is that they must satisfy the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) guidelines. This is to ensure that the selected design for the National Art Gallery respects the heritage and architectural significance of the City Hall and the Former Supreme Court buildings.

The preservation guidelines stipulate that the main external architectural features of the City Hall and the former Supreme Court are their facades. The international jury panel and the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts have ensured that the selected design adheres to this guideline, among others.

The proposed design discretely sets the canopy back from the building edge. The original roofs of both monuments are left intact. This juxtaposition of old and new is an internationally accepted practice for making new extensions to historical monuments. For the Tan Si Chong Su temple, the main external architectural feature of its traditional Chinese architecture is the roof. Any changes made to the shape, ornamentations and materials of the roof, therefore, impact on the architectural significance of the building, especially if the change is irreversible.

We share Mr Loke’s concern on the need to preserve our monuments while ensuring their appropriate adaptive re-use.

K. Bhavani (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications,
Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts

Source : Straits Times – 4 Jun 2008

Cost of SICC’s fancy new clubhouse balloons

Filed under: General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:21 am

Construction crunch bites hard; project may cost 50% more than estimated

SOARING construction costs have prompted the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) to drastically revise its budget upwards for the building of a new, ultra-modern clubhouse.

Barely a year after its members voted in favour of a $60-million facility at SICC’s Upper Thomson Road location, the management has revealed that it estimates the cost to now reach $90.3 million – an increase of over 50 per cent. This far exceeds the 5 per cent contingency that was set aside earlier.

In a circular dated May 23 sent to all its 7,500 members, SICC – Singapore’s largest golf and country club – said that the clubhouse plans have been affected by rising construction costs due to a shortage of building material and manpower.

An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) will be held on June 9 for members to discuss the revised budget before they cast their votes.

Work on the 25,000 sq m clubhouse – which will feature a spa, wellness centre and restaurants, among other facilities – began last September and is expected to be ready by mid-2010. In last week’s circular, the SICC assured members that the project was on target to be completed on time.

The original $60 million budget was first approved at an EGM in April 2007, with 86 per cent of the 543 members present that day giving their approval.

The new, estimated budget of $90.3 million includes a revised project cost of $81.1 million and an additional $9.2 million for improvements to architectural and mechanical and engineering works, said the circular.

At the June 9 EGM, the management is also trying to seek approval to spend another $21.1 million on an extra list of ‘proposed enhancements’ such as restaurants and 30 residential guest suites, extra car park lots and more features for the existing golf courses.

This would bring the total upgrading costs to nearly $114.5 million.

‘The suggested enhancements will bring about a new club experience, one that is unique to members of the club. This project, if voted in its entirety, will complete the long-awaited redevelopment of the Island location (at Upper Thomson),’ SICC president John Kirkham wrote in the circular.

But while SICC reportedly has reserves of more than $500 million, some members that BT spoke to have their reservations about whether the club’s heavy spending on upgrading works will eventually be passed down in the form of higher subscription fees, which are currently $130 a month.

One member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: ‘Do we really need such a fancy clubhouse, given that this is a time when everyone is in a squeeze as far as labour costs are concerned? Why are we doing so much at the peak of the market when costs are so high, rather than wait for things to cool down?’

One long-time member, however, was in favour of the upgrading as he felt it would enhance the value of the club membership even further. The current transferable membership price is $205,000.

Several efforts to reach SICC chief executive officer Sylvan Braberry for comment were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, apart from the new clubhouse, members also recently gave the green light to upgrade the two golf courses at SICC’s other location at Sime Road.

The works are estimated to cost about $55 million.

Source : Business Times – 3 Jun 2008

July 1, 2008

Soilbuild clinches JTC award to build stack-up factory

Filed under: Commercial,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:00 am

TO encourage private sector participation and promote an active industrial property market, JTC Corporation yesterday awarded the development of its stack-up factory to Singapore Exchange-listed Soilbuild Group Holdings.

This is the first time JTC has awarded such a project to a private developer.

Soilbuild has won the tender to build, own and operate a business facility on a site at Tanjong Kling, with a land area of 565,800 sq ft and a maximum gross floor area of 1.41 million sq ft. The site is on a 30-year lease, with an option to renew for a further 30 years.

A five-storey development is slated for completion by early 2010. It will comprise 45 modular and regular-shaped units, with sizes ranging from 23,700 to 60,300 sq ft. Total development cost is likely to be around $208 million.

Soilbuild expects the development, which is near Jurong Island, to cater to large corporations or MNCs in the marine engineering, oil and gas exploration and petrochemical-related industries.

Another two bidders took part in the concept and fixed-price tender. According to JTC, Soilbuild’s proposal stood out because of enhanced features in the concept, such as a layout that facilitates heavy vehicular movement within the building.

Soilbuild’s win complements the emergence of its business space portfolio as a significant new growth engine. ‘The expanding portfolio of business properties will enable us to tap on the robust demand from investors and grow our recurrent income stream in the coming years to support a progressive dividend policy,’ said executive director Low Soon Sim.

Soilbuild now has almost 3.3 million sq ft of business space projects in the pipeline. Shares of the developer closed unchanged at 95 cents yesterday.

In its statement yesterday, JTC noted an increase in demand for industrial space in the past three years due to robust growth in the manufacturing sector.

‘This momentum is expected to continue as more investment projects are anchored in Singapore, creating downstream opportunities for supporting industries,’ it said.

To optimise land use, JTC has been exploring ways to improve the design of its stack-up factory development to better meet the needs of various industries.

Source : Business Times – 3 Jun 2008

Work hard, play hard

Filed under: Community Voices,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:58 am

Tan Tiong Cheng
Managing Director
Knight Frank

URA has cleverly crafted the Leisure Plan by turning our weaknesses into strengths. We are a small island limited by physical size. Yet when fully developed, we will have a 150km route for joggers and cyclists, 4,200ha of parks connected by a web of 300km tracks, and 24/7 urban entertainment and lifestyle hotspots. We are a city – yet the countryside of farms and marshes is at the door-step. I am impressed that every square centimetre of land is fully utilised. Perhaps the only area left out of the Leisure Plan is the Southern Islands of Kusu, Lazarus, Seringat, Sisters and St John. The Leisure Plan will meet the needs of citizens, residents and visitors. It is a strategic piece of the jigsaw puzzle to make Singapore a unique place to live, work and play. The vision and objectives are bold and I look forward to its implementation.

CONVENIENT, ACCESSIBLE

Pauline Goh
Managing Director
CB Richard Ellis

THE tripling of the existing park connector network is timely as Singapore matures as a cosmopolitan city with the influx of a diverse range of expatriates, a large number of whom hail from cities with a love of the great outdoors.

The round-the-island path incorporating Marina Bay will inject a breath of fresh air to the dense concrete landscape of the Central Business District. This green network will offer convenient venue options for corporate sporting events, which have increasingly become popular. Outdoor activities will now be immediately accessible to office workers, who need not spend additional time commuting to recreational activities.

Glenn Tan
CEO
Motor Image Enterprises

THIS Leisure Plan is an ambitious move to extend URA’s Live, Work and Play concept beyond the city centre into neighbourhoods. With this decentralisation, people can truly live, work and play in closer proximity, reducing travel time to allow for more productive time, be it at work or play. This uniform distribution of commercial, residential and leisure facilities to outlying areas will provide much-needed relief from city centre congestion woes and ease the pressure on our transport system, as well as property prices in prime areas. This plan shows tremendous foresight in terms of enhancing the quality of life, with something for everyone – land or marine activities, serious sportsmen, the young and the elderly. I am delighted that it takes a holistic approach to leisure and recreation, rather than just exercise or fitness.

However, we must ensure that we retain the original charm and characteristics of each of these neighbourhood areas. Be it Orchard Road or Kallang Riverside, I am keen to see how URA intends to ‘carve out destinations with distinctive character’. This plan signals a new era for Singapore. I am excited that we are finally getting serious about having fun.

T Chandroo
Chairman/CEO
Modern Montessori International (MMI) Group

KUDOS to URA for putting forth a propitious proposal – especially in tandem with the IR developments – that will potentially shape our image as a world-class home for work and play. The Leisure Plan could not have been conceptualised at a more opportune time. In the foreseeable future, Singaporeans from all walks of life will be able to partake in accessible recreational activities that promise plenty of interaction with nature. Bearing in mind our ageing population, though, these state-of-the-art amenities should ideally be retrofitted to cater for the elderly, as well as the physically handicapped, so everyone can enjoy them.

FUN GLOBAL CITY

Derek Goh
Executive Chairman/Group CEO
Serial System

THE Leisure Plan is another hallmark of Singapore as a First World country. It is very timely – with the completion of the two IRs in 2010 and the hosting of the Inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 – for Singapore to turn into a fun global city state to work and live in. It’s uniquely Singapore indeed.

The Leisure Plan like the Land Transport Master Plan are long-term projects capable of generating growth and development for the next 10 to 15 years. More emphasis should be placed on nightlife and night attractions. More late-night recreation, shopping and eateries should be established to cater to tourists and shift workers. Late-night pricing can be more attractive to retain the shoppers, diners and movie goers. Even places of worship can be open at night to ease the congestion during the weekends.

I am confident that Singapore can be the City that never Sleeps.

R Theyvendran
Chairman/Managing Director
Stamford Media International Group of Companies

URA’s first Leisure Plan should be applauded – and encouraged. Just as economic success and growth does not come about without planning and sustained effort, so too the creation of a liveable, loveable and fun city.

As URA and other agencies have pointed out, there should be more varied and quality leisure options round-the-clock for everyone.

The aim is to create a healthy lifestyle – a balanced combination of ‘work and play’. Bringing parks closer to homes and the 150-km round-the-island route for joggers and cyclists are marvellous ideas. Creating must-see, crowd-pulling destinations, including unique waterways and sports facilities, are well thought-out projects.

Such recreational facilities will reduce the level of stress and enable greater interaction and understanding between the vast majority of Singaporeans. Greater family and communal bonding can be nurtured.

On the practical side, the opportunity cost of the nation’s limited land will be an issue – since there will be less land for housing, offices and other purposes.

Berthold Trenkel
Chief Operating Officer, Asia Pacific
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT)

URA’s Leisure Plan is a great initiative that recognises the war for talent is not just happening at company level but at country level. Enhancing Singapore’s lifestyle value is vital if we are to attract and retain talent, which in turn will help businesses stay competitive. As a Singapore PR, I am thrilled by the prospects and ideas the new plan offers – and cannot wait to see the results.

HOTFOOT IT

Lim Soon Hock
Managing Director
PLAN-B ICAG Pte Ltd

IT is a brilliant idea. It marks a milestone in the government’s efforts to reshape and re-invent Singapore. I wish the Leisure Plan had been announced earlier, at the turn of the millennium. I hope the government can accelerate the implementation of the Leisure Plan, given its merits and benefits.

I like the plan for its holistic approach and the careful thought given to have the proposed developments distributed throughout the island. Some could have been developed earlier – for example, the 150-km round-the-island route for cyclists and joggers. As Singapore is an island, I would have thought it is an obvious thing for our planners to exploit the kaleidoscopic play of land and sea along the coastline to create a scenic and breathtaking circuit. I drove along the near round-the-island coastal road in Hawaii in the 1980s, and until this day I still remember the exhilarating experience. Perhaps our 150-km track can be expanded or redesigned to cater to driving as well?

The multi-billion-dollar budget set aside for the Leisure Plan shows the government is serious about creating an enjoyable and rejuvenating playground for the benefit of all Singaporeans. The plan appears to be wholesome both in quantity and quality, unlike other half-hearted attempts related to previous developments. In contemporary Singapore, where many of us work longer hours than before, I like the plan most for the myriad opportunities offered to families to spend quality time together for bonding and to enjoy one another at their own time and pace. Hence my earlier call to bring forward the implementation of the plan.

If there is one difficulty, it is our hot and humid weather. If only we could air-condition our entire island, Singapore would be paradise.

Liu Chunlin
CEO
K&C Protective Technologies Pte Ltd

WE like the Leisure Plan with its greater choices and balance between city entertainment and outdoor leisure. It was not too long ago that Singapore was criticised as a successful but boring place, attested by people from overseas coming here to work. But things have changed and are changing, through the likes of the F1, Youth Olympics and now the Leisure Plan. I believe we can be cosmopolitan like New York, Paris and London, even if we are not as big.

I have a few suggestions. One is a quicker pace of implementation. Just as the transport system is under pressure, leisure infrastructure will be too. We see overcrowded shopping centres at weekends. We can also create greater ’space’ by having free wireless access along leisure networks, to compensate for scarce land.

While the government can lay the leisure infrastructure, it should allow greater spontaneity in the ’software’ part. I know that in a small place like Singapore, rules are often needed to regulate public space, but let us be prepared for a loosening up. The software part will allow operators and users greater leeway in leisure activities as long as they do not use this at the expense of others.

New towns are potentially a great asset in terms of leisure activities. But I think our new towns are too homogeneous though they are most accessible. The same type of facilities and shops can be found in every estate. Why not create towns with unique character so they are interesting to visit. We need to break out of the idea that public housing estates need to be standardised from an administration point of view.

A BOOST FOR LIFESTYLE

Charles Reed
CEO
DoCoMo interTouch

SINGAPORE has done an excellent job of providing all age groups with a wide range of leisure options. From the main shopping districts to the heartlands, there is no lack of entertainment malls, parks and community centres.

The Leisure Plan is an excellent initiative to provide individuals with another way of taking time off their busy schedules and achieve an even better work-life balance.

With the launch of the new 9-km scenic walk on the Henderson Wave and the Alexandra Arch, Singapore is strengthening its position as a world-class city with a high standard of living and a strong focus on the population’s health and wellbeing. Such initiatives not only benefit residents but also attract talent and foreign investment.

Moving forward, URA could look into hosting more international events, like the annual Carnevale di Venezia in Italy, to enhance the success of the Leisure Plan and provide Singaporeans with more entertainment options.

David Hope
VP and Regional MD, Asia & Japan
Lawson Software

I AM very excited by the Leisure Plan. It will help improve the overall quality of life, promote healthy living and provide options and choices for residents and visitors. I am particularly pleased by the planned 150km round-the-island route for cyclists and joggers, more green spaces and more water and sports facilities. I have been advocating the need to extend cycling tracks in Singapore for some time to offer a safer, more healthy and non-polluting mode of transport. The key is to do this properly and make it a world-class facility. By that, I mean building a fully inter-connected cycling track with connecting paths and no dead-ends, steps, barriers or other obstacles that sometimes exist on cycling tracks (such as bridges that start and end with steps). Hopefully, we will eventually see a track that is connected with underpass or overpass options at all roads, and not just the sharing of narrow footpaths. I am confident that with proper planning this could be world-class in every respect and would be very well used. The safety aspects of having extensive dedicated cycling tracks will encourage more families to take up cycling, which benefits everybody.

Dhirendra Shantilal
Senior Vice-President, Asia Pacific
Kelly Services

SINGAPORE is recognised as a country with an excellent quality of life, efficient world-class infrastructure, public safety and a multi-faceted effectively bilingual talent pool – all major selling points for attracting and retaining valuable talent and foreign investment.

The continued development of Singapore’s attractiveness as a city to work, play and live is impressive and commendable. In URA’s Leisure Plan, there are now more recreational avenues available all over Singapore for all demographic groups.

Organisations in Singapore can support various initiatives to enhance the quality of life for our people through sponsorships, setting up leisure and sports-related enterprises and partnerships and supporting environmental projects and programmes as part of corporate social responsibility.

It is also critical to continue to invest in our people, as our future economic growth and quality of life are closely tied to this investment.

While education and training are important to equip our people with the necessary knowledge and skills, organisations and employers must also foster a culture that supports work-life balance – to improve employee health and well-being, improve productivity and enhance overall quality of life.

OTHERS

Lars Ronning
President, Asia Pacific (excluding China and Japan)
Tandberg

THE Leisure Plan tackles the pressing issues of protecting the environment while making sure growth is sustainable.

It is commendable that the plan takes into consideration agri-tainment, arts entertainment spaces, as well as where to house industrial development. But URA needs also to keep in mind the preservation of cultural icons and spaces. Preservation of The Arts House (former parliament house) is a great example, which should be replicated insofar as preserving old-world charm in metropolitan Singapore.

On a different note, this new plan needs to be coupled with accurate data and transparent administration – factors for which Singapore has become renowned. That way, good governance and economic growth might prove a solution in achieving sustainable growth and at the same time protecting the environment.

Dora Hoan
Group CEO
Best World International Ltd

URBAN planning is never more needed than in Singapore due to scarce land and dense population. It becomes critical to maximise the use of land efficiently while equitably serving the greatest number of people. The URA Leisure Plan is a most welcome development as we try to make Singapore a modern yet liveable place. Adding leisure elements will increase the value of residential and commercial properties and develop centres that provide for increased social interaction and thereby give rise to the development of new businesses and more services due to higher potential returns.We must pause to examine how liveability can be defined. And in doing so, we must see to it that it is analysed through a framework of indicators such as economic, environmental, cultural, democratic and social considerations. The plan must uplift the quality of life for our people and be fun and exciting in a manner that will also not detract or encroach on a community’s historical charm. As for businesses, we ought to be conscious of no
tions of corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility relevant to enhancing liveability. A Leisure Plan will be good in so far as it encourages harmony in diversity – providing a range of cultural, community and educational services as well as business and retail activities to complete it.

Source : Business Times – 2 Jun 2008

What good is a leisure island if we have no time to enjoy it?

Filed under: Community Voices,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:50 am

YouthInk writers share their thoughts on the URA Master Plan unveiled recently

Too busy for leisure

THE proposed plan to turn the nation into a ‘leisure island’ is a laudable effort by the Government to encourage Singaporeans to spend more time with their family.

However, its aims seem unrealistic in work-obsessed Singapore.

Consider an average family of two parents and two children: The rising costs of living make it necessary for both parents to work and family time is at a premium.

While the five-day work week has gone some way to create more family time, 49per cent of Singaporeans still feel that their work hours are too long, according to a 2006 AC Nielsen survey.

Children are similarly faced with stressful and long school timetables – and this is before factoring in co-curricular activities and homework. Even during the holidays, they have to go back to school for extra lessons.

Leisure has a decreasing place in the lives of an average Singaporean family. What is the use of new leisure facilities if people are too busy to enjoy them?

Instead of simply adding to infrastructure, the Government should look into practical ways to ease its citizens’ costs and burdens of living so that the ‘leisure island’ can be enjoyed by its citizens and not simply by tourists.

Practical gestures, such as subsidies on food or public transport, may prove more welcome to the masses than a new park.

Ng Yi Xun, 19, is a third-year student at the Millennia Institute

Cycle in the city

GIVEN the scale and high cost of implementing the Urban Redevelopment Authority Master Plan, it should go beyond just providing more leisure options.

For example, rather than limiting cycling lanes to the parks, why not extend them into the city? This will provide a more comprehensive land-usage plan and allow more destinations to be accessible by bicycle.

Currently, such cycling lanes do not exist and cyclists have to either travel on pedestrian paths or brave heavy traffic on the roads, often at great personal risk.

Cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and London have such lanes in place, which allow cyclists to navigate the roads safely and also enjoy scenic trips through parks.

The authorities in these cities see cycling as a cheap and practical way to travel around the city. It is also in line with their efforts to reduce traffic congestion in city centres and introduce more eco-friendly modes of transportation.

As we seek to improve our quality of life, perhaps building cycling lanes in select districts here as a trial will be a good start.

Kenny Tan, 22, is a second-year economics student at the Singapore Management University (SMU)

Green step forward

WITH temperatures hitting a scorching 34 deg C two weeks ago, I doubt many would venture outdoors. Health considerations are another concern – an example being the recurring haze.

Nonetheless, credit has to be given to the urban planners for creating more recreational options for citizens. They could have taken the easy way out and just built another mall, reinforcing our nation’s favourite pastime – shopping.

This leisure plan could be part of a larger green movement to promote environmentalism.

Our very own Central Park will counter the urban city sprawl and reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, providing both aesthetic and functional appeal.

More parks will improve air quality, serve as buffers against sweltering temperatures and provide an avenue for people to lead more active and healthier lives.

In the quest for environmental protection, however, global and regional efforts are just as important as individual efforts.

Take the haze, for example. No amount of greenery created here can fully counter its negative effects without regional cooperation.

This is the inconvenient truth many choose not to face.

Chew Zhi Wen, 21, has a place to read law and economics at the National University of Singapore

Go natural

LEISURE parks here need not necessarily have to be man-made.

We can embrace what we already have, Singapore’s surrounding islands – Kusu, St John’s, Sisters and Pulau Ubin.

Getting away from the concrete jungle is one of the most refreshing things one can do.

These islands are full of history and serenity. Singaporeans get the chance to enjoy the boat ride, clean air and, of course, fresh seafood.

The authorities should keep Singaporeans abreast of current developments on some of these islands.

In addition, they could enhance existing attractions on the islands by including hiking and walking trails, or offering ranger services.

These add value to time away from the city and also encourage a healthy lifestyle and an appreciation for Singapore’s history.

Heighten the awareness of these islands to provide Singaporeans with more options to relax and enjoy life away from the fast lane.

Tabitha Mok, 21, is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Western Australia

Something for all

A SUCCESSFUL ‘leisure plan’ should ideally have activities that would appeal to a spectrum of personalities, from the quiet nature lover to the extroverted clubber.

This way, people may think twice about spending too much time chasing material comforts and consider slowing down their pace of living.

A slower pace allows citizens to note and appreciate the intangibles in life and this improves their non-material quality of life.

Happy employees put more effort into work, happier families provide moral support and motivation for tired workers.

A slower pace could also prolong one’s stamina to work and retire later.

Arguably, a higher non-material quality of life could boost economic productivity.

I hope we won’t be so caught up in the rat race to not realise that.

Owen Yeo, 20, has a place to read social sciences at SMU

Source : Straits Times – 2 Jun 2008

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