Shoebox units have a place in market

The Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) move to curb the proliferation of shoebox units is contradictory (URA cuts number of units allowed to be built in condos, private flats; Oct 18).

It is likely that private developers took their cue from the Housing Board to build small units.

There are two types of flats under the two-room Flexi Scheme, which has replaced the two-room flat scheme and Studio Apartment scheme, that are around 36 sq m and 45 sq m. On the other hand, a standard private shoebox unit is around 70 sq m. How do the private shoebox units, which are bigger than HDB studio and two-room flats, stress our infrastructure?

Considering that such HDB flats are built up to 20 storeys high and there are numerous blocks of them, the total number of units is more than those of private shoebox units. Doesn't that contribute more strain and stress on to our infrastructure?

The two-room flexible flats are catered to retirees, who wish to free up cash by moving out of their four-or five-room flats to a smaller space, as well as to singles.

In the same vein, private developers have built shoebox units for retirees and singles who can afford private apartments and are not keen on HDB flats because of the long list of sale conditions and lack of facilities. Shoebox apartments are a good fit for single professionals and retirees, and the restriction would leave a void.

URA should let the market decide without setting an arbitrary limit for developers.

Rather, URA should focus on its main objective of curbing speculation and property flipping.

The new guidelines are bad for consumer choice and would impose costs on buyers who are forced to pay more for bigger private apartments.

Shoebox units clearly serve a niche role in our socioeconomic climate. Restriction will not help create sustainable communities without viable alternatives for retirees and single professionals.

When it comes to living in the city, when is too small considered way too small?

With demand for living in the city rising, single, talented expatriates who contribute to our economy demand efficient living spaces. Developers design shoebox units that help to capitalise on efficiency while giving the residents access to some of the most desirable locations.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2018, with the headline 'Shoebox units have a place in market'. Print Edition | Subscribe