Parts of Geylang to be rezoned

Aim to halt building of more homes, to rebalance mix of developments

Some parts of the infamous red-light district in Geylang may be rezoned to halt the development of more homes.

The area is now a hodgepodge of shophouses, eateries, freehold properties and even brothels - a diverse mix that could cause "issues arising from conflicting uses", said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday.

Ms Hwang Yu-Ning, group director of physical planning at URA, said: "With more new residential developments in the area, there has been increasing... friction on the ground.

"In our assessment, the growth of new residential communities in the area of Lorongs 4-22 Geylang needs to be rebalanced and moderated."

The URA wants to reclassify areas bounded by Geylang Road, Lorong 22 Geylang, Guillemard Road and Lorong 4 Geylang from "residential/institution" to a new "commercial/institution" zoning once it consults the police and "other agencies".

The rezoned areas could then be used for offices, shops, entertainment outifts such as karaoke joints, or a community club, instead of new residential units.

The affected areas exclude roads, a sports field bounded by Talma Road and Lorong 12 Geylang as well as properties fronting Geylang Road.

The proposed changes would not affect existing or new residential projects that have already been given the green light.

Developments such as Le Regal and Treasures@G6 are now being built in the affected area. However, if they were to be sold in a collective sale, for instance, the new developments could not be residential buildings under the new zoning.

Ms Chia Siew Chuin, director of research and advisory at Colliers International, estimated that there will be almost 300 new homes completed in the area over the next few years - adding more residents who might not appreciate the sleazy activity going on under their noses.

Ms Christine Li, research head at OrangeTee, said a change in land use should bode well for existing residents as values of commercial properties are typically higher. This could stir up interest from developers keen to amalgamate the residential clusters for a sizeable commercial complex, said Mr Desmond Sim, research head at CBRE, South-east Asia.

But the challenge lies in negotiating with the numerous individual owners in the area. Redeveloping the land could be costly as well as development charges are higher for commercial land.

Development charges for a 1,500 sq m commercial plot would be $12.9 million as compared to $3.5 million for a similar residential parcel, noted Ms Li.

Members of the public can submit their feedback in writing to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Development, by Feb 11.

ocheryl@sph.com.sg