The Sunday Times says

A public housing approach for the future

The Housing Board's plans to sustain the supply of Build-To-Order flats must be welcome news for young people with marriage and family plans. The strong demand for BTO flats and the trend of more multi-generational families seeking to live in proximity should give HDB and urban planners some pointers about future land use plans. The Urban Redevelopment Authority recently announced a year-long consultation exercise to seek the public's opinions on the country's long-term land use needs which will change significantly in a post-pandemic landscape with the additional challenges of climate, demographic and technological changes. The country already has its successful public housing programme as a launch pad. It has evolved over the years to meet everything from urgent housing needs to multiracial integration to changing aspirations. In a post-pandemic world - where working from home could be a regular option and occasional self-quarantines required, along with the existing challenges posed by an ageing population and a falling birth rate - the evolution of HDB policies in the past can help map the way forward. The HDB is already modelling some ways. This includes enabling young couples to nest earlier with BTO flats in mature estates, possibly close to parents, accessing childcare and school facilities, providing communal spaces to encourage active ageing and the kampung spirit.

Witness too its recent change to plans to build on the Dover Forest area, following public feedback and research findings from two scientific studies. While the traditional demarcations of city and suburban areas may be upended, the human need for shelter and community have not changed. As Singapore looks forward to new ways of modelling the city, the HDB's track record has provided useful lessons in meeting the needs of residents here in concrete ways.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 01, 2021, with the headline 'A public housing approach for the future'. Subscribe