IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Got a project coming up? Tell nearby residents first

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Feb 22, 2014

RESIDENTS living near housing developments that are on the drawing board will no longer risk being caught by surprise when a project gets the green light for construction.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) now requires developers to inform residents living around new developments about their building plans.

The new clause, first added to Government Land Sales (GLS) tender documents in October, asks developers to "carry out a public communications plan as part of efforts to keep the local community informed of the development plans for the land parcel".

This includes sending out fliers with details of the project, construction schedule and measures to reduce the impact of construction work on the surroundings.

Developers also have to submit feedback from residents to the URA before permission to begin construction is granted.

"As the development of a site can possibly be disruptive to a neighbourhood, this requirement is for developers to inform the community about new construction activities and development projects in the neighbourhood before they commence," a URA spokesman said.

URA defines the "local community" as residents within a 100m radius of the site. However, these rules do not apply to sites acquired through collective sales.

URA also said the requirement is imposed only for sites in residential areas.

Sites being developed under the new rules include the Westwood executive condominium site and an Upper Paya Lebar Road parcel, both bought in January.

A spokesman for UOL Group, which is developing the Upper Paya Lebar site, said it is still working out the details of the process with the authorities.

Developers say feedback from residents living nearby will give them time to take pre-emptive measures. However, the extent to which the public comments must be adhered to is still unclear.

Mr Chng Kiong Huat, executive director of property services at Far East Organization, said residents have been raising concerns to the authorities and developers, even before this move.

"When people live in a particular location, they are used to the traffic... there are fewer people using their place," he told The Straits Times. "When anyone comes in, the whole sense of the place which they've come to enjoy for a while has been disturbed."

He highlighted the example of the firm's freehold condo, The Seawind in Telok Kurau. People living nearby who had been parking along an access road were concerned that the new project would cause more congestion.

The firm was prompted to build an alternative road to ease traffic, after the community voiced its concerns to the Land Transport Authority and Far East. This cost the firm an additional $200,000 and delayed construction by two months.

"If we were informed earlier, we would have planned for it. This would save time and cost which comes from making major changes to the development after everything has been designed and submitted for approval."

Mr Lim Yew Soon, managing director of EL Development, said it is not an issue to carry out the consultation process, but comments from the public could vary greatly.

"It's almost impossible to address every single one. If it comes after the tender is closed, it might not be fair to the developer."

ocheryl@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Feb 22, 2014

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