PARLIAMENT

Early 1990s HDB blocks may get upgrade

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said his ministry was studying how the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme could be extended to Housing Board precincts built in the early 1990s. -- TNP FILE PHOTO
Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said his ministry was studying how the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme could be extended to Housing Board precincts built in the early 1990s. -- TNP FILE PHOTO

Housing Board precincts built in the early 1990s could be eligible for a major makeover under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP).

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament yesterday that his ministry is looking into expanding the eligibility criteria.

"We understand that residents in blocks built just after 1989 may feel their blocks are also ageing, but they have just missed out on NRP," he said in reply to a call from Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) for a review.

Currently, only precincts built before December 1989 and have not undergone other major upgrading programmes are eligible.

Under the programme, introduced in 2007, residents in selected HDB precincts can choose what improvements they want.

Some have asked for sheltered walkways while others preferred a "residents' lounge" at the void deck to promote interaction among neighbours or a porch for residents to alight from vehicles, shielded from inclement weather.

The programme has improved the surroundings of about 140,000 flats - or 75 per cent of the 187,000 flats eligible for NRP.

The residents have responded positively to NRP, Mr Khaw said, and a review is timely.

"We will see how the NRP can be extended to blocks built in the early 1990s.

"If and when we do make such an extension, we will give priority to towns which have not benefitted from the Main Upgrading Programme or Interim Upgrading Programme, like those in (Mr Zainal's) constituency," he said.

Mr Khaw also described as sensible a suggestion by Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef (Marine Parade GRC) that the cost cap for each precinct be reviewed given the rising cost of construction.

The cost is capped at $3,400 per flat.

When asked for a deadline for the review by Mr Zainal, Mr Khaw said: "We are reviewing. You know I'm a fast worker."

rachelay@sph.com.sg