Strong public-private tie-ups vital: Minister

One partnership model under study is a "master developer" approach. Mr Wong cited Marina Bay, noting that larger sites allowed developers to optimise land uses and build in a more integrated manner.
One partnership model under study is a "master developer" approach. Mr Wong cited Marina Bay, noting that larger sites allowed developers to optimise land uses and build in a more integrated manner.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Different partnership models being studied to ensure realisation of development plans

The private sector and the Government must strengthen their partnership to ensure that plans for Singapore's development are realised, according to National Development Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday.

Mr Wong said the strategy was among key areas the Committee on the Future Economy is studying.

One partnership model under study is a "master developer" approach for developing new districts, which will provide more flexibility for developers.

He cited Marina Bay, noting that the larger sites offered for tender "allowed the developer to optimise different land uses and build in a more integrated manner... It also helped to mitigate the risk by giving the developers options to phase out the projects."

Another partnership model under consideration is what is called "business improvement districts (BID)". These are set up and funded by stakeholders, including property owners and businesses, in a defined commercial area to make the place more attractive.

These districts are already operating in countries such as Germany, Japan, Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

ONE MODEL'S ADVANTAGE

It allows stakeholders to have direct ownership and responsibility in implementing plans for an area, and it helps to bring in additional vibrancy to the area.

MR LAWRENCE WONG, National Development Minister, on the "business improvement districts" model.

"It allows stakeholders to have direct ownership and responsibility in implementing plans for an area, and it helps to bring in additional vibrancy to the area," noted Mr Wong, who was speaking at the 57th anniversary dinner of the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia hotel last night.

Mr Wong said other ideas being considered by the committee include developing economic clusters outside the city, expanding space options via land reclamation and using underground space better.

Another priority is to ensure that infrastructure plans are ready for the digital economy as Singapore strives to be a "data and digital port".

Redas president Augustine Tan said it is timely to step up cooperation with the public sector in view of the challenges ahead.

All property sectors - office, residential, retail and industrial - have been hit by various factors, including weaker demand for space, rising vacancies and sliding rentals.

"The weak market will cause asset values and rentals to keep falling, and create financial stress on businesses, which will inadvertently affect employment," Mr Tan noted.

Even though there was a pick-up in sales of new private homes in recent months, Mr Tan told the event that it is "too early to conclude that recovery in primary sales take-ups and prices will be sustainable".

One concern is the fees developers will have to pay if they fail to sell all units at projects within a stipulated timeframe under Qualifying Certificate (QC) rules.

Mr Tan said there were about 500 unsold units in 12 project as at the end of October. These will face QC charges by the end of the year to the tune of about $47 million.

And about 4,000 unsold units in 42 developments will be affected by the additional buyer's stamp duty remission claw-back by 2018.

An honorary award was conferred on late property tycoon Kwek Leng Joo at the last night's event. Mr Kwek, who was the deputy chairman of City Developments, died of a heart attack in November last year at the age of 62. Redas paid tribute to him for his contribution to the association and his deep commitment to environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Strong public-private tie-ups vital: Minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe