Apartments must not be smaller than 70 sq m

With the collective sales fever raging, Singaporeans may have to compromise by living in million-dollar shoebox units, not because of smaller family sizes or for cosiness, but because decent-sized homes are too expensive to afford (En bloc effect: Smaller shoebox units?; April 11).

The Urban Redevelopment Authority guidelines use the proposed building gross floor area divided by 70 sq m to compute the maximum number of units allowed per development, without specifying the minimum unit size.

Moreover, the formula emphasises only the "average" of an aggregate of sizes per development, but fails to mandate 70 sq m as the size for a shoebox unit or to restrict the number of such units allowed.

Smart developers can circumvent the formula and maximise profits by designing apartments of various sizes, which will then meet the "average" requirement.

For instance, half of the 309 units in the Margaret Ville condominium are around 65 sq m or smaller.

In another private development, The Tapestry, over 500 of the 861 units are 65 sq m or smaller.

The trend does not bode well for our city. We should not shrink our living spaces further.

It is imperative to mandate that 70 sq m be the minimum size of a unit, and that such units should not make up more than 35 per cent of the units in a development.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'Apartments must not be smaller than 70 sq m'. Print Edition | Subscribe