Benefits for Paya Lebar will take time: Experts

The relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base from 2030 will free up 800ha of land. Height restrictions to ensure navigational safety for aircraft will be relaxed, meaning that low-rise buildings may be redeveloped.
The relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base from 2030 will free up 800ha of land. Height restrictions to ensure navigational safety for aircraft will be relaxed, meaning that low-rise buildings may be redeveloped.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

It will take a while before Paya Lebar reaps the benefits of having the Paya Lebar Air Base relocated, say property experts.

The relocation of the air base from 2030 will free up 800ha of land - bigger than Bishan. Height restrictions to ensure navigational safety for aircraft will also be relaxed, meaning low-rise buildings may be redeveloped.

When he first announced this in 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the land will be used to "build new homes, new offices, new factories, new parks, new living environments and new communities".

But moving out the air base may not directly lead to a boom in property prices in the area, say analysts.

SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak said there are many factors to be considered, such as the timing and market conditions at the point of the move.

He also said that if the land is being redeveloped for residences, it might lead to an increase in the supply of homes, and this would "put a cap on property prices". Even if there is any price increase, it will only "rise at a moderate pace", he added.

 
 
 

International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong noted that what is significant is that current height restrictions will be relaxed, meaning there will be "greater room for development of a higher density neighbourhood".

Existing flats, for example, will have the potential to be redeveloped and built higher.

Mr Ku said that it is too early to speculate about how the landscape of Paya Lebar will be, as there are other existing towns that have yet to reach their full potential, citing Jurong West as an example.

The lack of basic utilities in the land currently occupied by the air base, such as sewage, gas and telecommunications, is something that will take years to address, he added. After all, the land has been used as an air base for decades, and the capacity for those utilities is lower.

"After the land has been returned to the authorities, it will take many years for basic infrastructure to be laid out first, before redevelopment can take place," Mr Ku said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Benefits for Paya Lebar will take time: Experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe