MND gives the go-ahead for hubs that house multiple churches or temples

Choir members singing during service at the Karen Baptist Church, which holds its services in rented premises at Kim Tian Christian Church.
Choir members singing during service at the Karen Baptist Church, which holds its services in rented premises at Kim Tian Christian Church.ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

SINGAPORE - For the first time, multi-user places of worship that will house either multiple Chinese temples or multiple churches have been given the go-ahead by the authorities.

Speaking to The Straits Times, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said on Tuesday (Jan 12) that these multi-storey facilities will cater to the needs of smaller religious groups "who find the Government Land Sales sites too big for their needs".

While the Government has been periodically releasing land parcels for places of worship, many small temples and churches find them too big for their needs and, hence, unaffordable.

For instance, many churches currently rent venues such as hotel function rooms and units in remote industrial buildings, while an estimated 2,000 Taoist temples are also operating out of homes.

In December 2014, MND launched a Request for Information exercise seeking views and proposals from churches and Chinese temples on the possibility of building such hubs. The exercise closed in February 2015.

MND said then that the hubs would house multiple groups of the same religion in the same building. These hubs will likely be located within or at the fringe of industrial areas.

It will also have a master lessee, who will develop as well as rent or lease out the space. The religious groups will share common facilities such as carparks, prayer halls and classrooms.

More than 100 small and medium-sized churches in industrial areas , and 160 Taoist temples could benefit from the move.

The ministry said more details will be provided soon.