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Why It Matters

Plan it right for second CBD

Good urban master-planning is crucial to creating great places that people love to live, work and play in. This process guides land use, identifies the way people and traffic move, and integrates new neighbourhoods with existing communities.

A visionary masterplan can ignite the social, physical and economic rejuvenation of backwaters.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority has sought masterplan proposals for Jurong Lake District, now earmarked as the second Central Business District (CBD). Anchored by the future high-speed rail terminus, the 360ha district is set to be eco-friendly and well connected, with offices, waterfront homes, hotels, greenery and recreational facilities.

Still, questions have emerged over whether the push to create a second CBD could thwart the district's success. Does Singapore - at just over 719 sq km - need a second CBD? Cities with a second CBD are much larger: Incheon is 1,029 sq km, London is 1,572 sq km and Shanghai, 7,037 sq km.

For the next few years at least, firms would seem to have plenty of alternative locations. Announced commercial clusters include Woodlands Regional Centre, Punggol Creative Cluster, Paya Lebar Central and Kallang Riverside. Closer to the Raffles Place CBD, the Beach Road/Ophir-Rochor Corridor and Tanjong Pagar have also been touted as growth areas.

Firms will be spoilt for choice and so the new district must be exceptional to attract them. Those reliant on Raffles Place services - such as legal and accounting - may snub a move to the outskirts.

In recent years, CapitaLand opted not to move to Jurong and the National Development Ministry put on hold plans to move its headquarters there.

For the district to take off, it probably needs more big firms and government agencies to move there.

The call for masterplan ideas begins a long process of shaping Jurong Lake District. And as people make a place thrive, their needs must be central too. A vibrant district does not just happen - getting the groundwork right is critical.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Plan it right for second CBD'. Print Edition | Subscribe