New scheme provides support for community car-free zones

 Patrons at a restaurant in Club Street in this 2013 file photo.
Patrons at a restaurant in Club Street in this 2013 file photo.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - A new Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) programme will support community projects to turn streets into car-free zones, with up to $5,000 of seed funding available.

Launched on Thursday, the Streets for People programme is for ground-up proposals to transform streets and back lanes into community spaces by temporarily closing them to traffic.

It provides various levels of support, such as one-stop consultation with government agencies, the supply of road closure essentials such as safety barriers and signage, and up to $5,000 of seed funding.

The scheme also provides installation of PubliCity Pop-up Programmes, a series of short-term, creative amenities to get the car-free zone going. For instance, the URA has previously created Pop-up Parks by installing artificial turf, tables and chairs on paved areas.

"We want to see more streets being turned into public spaces for community to enjoy," said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a blog post announcing the programme.

Pilot projects that make Circular Road, Haji Lane and Ann Siang Hill car-free zones during weekends "have been a great success", he added. These projects began in 2013 with the support of the URA.

"As the streets get closed off, they come alive with activities: tables and chairs spilling onto the roads, diners enjoying a leisurely cuppa, youngsters hanging out at quirky boutiques, and tourists soaking up another aspect of Singapore. People stroll freely and safely," Mr Khaw wrote.

The authorities have seen more communities coming forward to start similar projects, he added. At Everton Park in Tanjong Pagar, the local community closed a back lane to cars for a street festival with activities such as free haircuts, face-painting and kampung games.

"We welcome more of such ground-up initiatives to unlock the potential of our streets as temporary public spaces. We hope the 'Streets for People' programme will make it easier for others who want to bring the same success to their neighbourhood," said URA chief executive officer Ng Lang.

Proposals can be for short-term or regular temporary car-free zones. They will be assessed on three criteria: location, timing and activities. Applicants must operate or reside in the proposed area, and have their plans supported by the local community.

The scheme is one of the projects under the URA's PubliCity initiative, which aims to involve the community "in celebrating and enlivening public spaces through good design and programmes".

The public can find out more or apply at ura.sg/streetsforpeople


PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY