Upgrading programmes at HDB estates get a boost

Pace of works to be sped up, more households to enjoy benefits

This article was first published on Sept 11, 2014

Housing Board upgrading programmes were given a boost yesterday as the Government announced fresh moves to spruce up more neighbourhoods, touch up ageing flats and replace old lifts.

The enhancements are aimed at keeping ageing estates in good condition, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

"Many residents with blocks and neighbourhoods that have not yet been upgraded are impatient," said Mr Khaw, who was speaking at the HDB Awards ceremony at Shangri-La Hotel. "They, too, want to benefit from the new features immediately."

The Government will be paying for most of these upgrading programmes.

One of the changes announced is to speed up the pace of the Home Improvement Programme (HIP), which addresses maintenance issues such as structural cracks in flats built in or before 1986.

Some 100,000 flats, out of the 300,000 eligible, will be selected next year. Over the next two years, 50,000 flats will be upgraded annually. This is up from the current 35,000 annually. Homes selected will have an option to include elderly-friendly fittings.

More than 120,000 flats have been offered the upgrade so far, with citizen households fully subsidised for essential upgrades. They pay between 5 per cent and 12.5 per cent of the costs for optional improvements, such as door replacements.

"Early selection of HIP blocks will... enable the owners to decide better whether to wait for the HIP or to proceed first with their own renovations," said Mr Khaw.

The Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP), which improves neighbourhood facilities, will also expand to include HDB blocks built between 1990 and 1995. Previously, this applied only to blocks built in and before 1989.

This means that another 100,000 households in more than 1,300 blocks, mostly in middle- aged towns like Chua Chu Kang, Pasir Ris and Tampines, will benefit from the programme.

The scope of improvements under the NRP will also be broadened to include block repainting and other repairs, which were previously done under the town councils' routine maintenance.

The Government will also replace ageing lifts which were not targeted in the Lift Upgrading Programme, said Mr Khaw.

The new Selective Lift Replacement Programme will replace about 750 lifts mostly in Chua Chu Kang and Pasir Ris. The new lifts will come with better safety and security features, like vision panels and motion-sensing doors.

About 33,000 households will benefit from this programme, which will be funded by HDB and the town councils.

Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad said his residents have been asking for such lift safety features for many years.

Statutory board manager Alex Seo, 31, said many residents who go home late at night will appreciate the vision panels.

Trainer Wong Peng Thim, 58, who lives in Block 232, Pasir Ris Drive 4, is looking forward to getting covered walkways and sheltered drop-off porches under the NRP. "Having no walkways makes it inconvenient for us to get home when it rains."

Mr Khaw said the moves will raise the overall standard of living for residents.

"Every new HDB town should be better than the old town. Every old town should not be too far behind the new town."

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