JTC looks into building above major roads

When it comes to freeing up land for other uses, building over roads is likely to be cheaper than going underground, says CEO Png Cheong Boon. -- PHOTO: JTC
When it comes to freeing up land for other uses, building over roads is likely to be cheaper than going underground, says CEO Png Cheong Boon. -- PHOTO: JTC

In what would be a first for land-scarce Singapore, industrial landlord JTC is exploring the possibility of erecting buildings, walkways and communal spaces above major roads.

This could be cheaper than going underground, it says of the unprecedented idea to intensify land usage.

The landlord might also step up efforts to redevelop older industrial estates by taking back land when 30-year leases are up.

These moves are part of plans to ensure the best use of Singapore's scarce space, said chief executive Png Cheong Boon at a press conference yesterday.

While heavy industries are probably out of the question, the statutory board is looking into erecting offices, light industries and walkways above major roads and expressways.

One place where such a connection could be built is Buona Vista, across the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE). The highway separates research and business park one-north on one side, and the Singapore Science Park and National University of Singapore on the other.

JTC will also look into creating new spaces by redeveloping older industrial estates. The 30-year land leases in estates such as Tanjong Kling and Sungei Kadut are expiring soon.

"We will explore whether existing facilities can continue to operate, or whether we should take these spaces back and redevelop them," said Mr Png.

This would depend on how well land is being used at the moment, companies' productivity, and land use plans for the surrounding area, he added.

JTC has already redeveloped a site in Tanjong Kling. Launched last year, it is specially designed to house manufacturers and be more space-efficient.

It is also looking to develop Sungei Kadut as a hub for the furniture and timber industries, where companies in the sector can be located alongside essential services and facilities.

Similar industrial hubs have been developed for the biomedical, petrochemical and aerospace sectors, among others.

Mr Png stressed that JTC does not aim to provide cheap industrial space as this is not sustainable in the long term. Instead, it will "step in when its involvement can give companies a competitive advantage... and when it is hard for the private sector to do so".

Examples of this include industry clusters that provide companies with specialised facilities, which tend to be too costly for private developers to build, he said.

chiaym@sph.com.sg

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