The Straits Times says

Opening new vistas for Singapore

The Urban Redevelopment Authority has revealed exciting plans for a greener and deeper Singapore at its Draft Master Plan 2019 exhibition. The Master Plan is a statutory land use plan that guides Singapore's development in the next 10 to 15 years, and is reviewed every five years. Key to the plans are a new 50km Greater Rustic Coast running along the northern coast, district-level underground plans, and a 24km "green vein" called the Rail Corridor running through the country that will be connected by 2021. There will be an additional 1,000ha of parks and park connectors, as well as the rejuvenation of the central area, including Orchard Road. What is envisaged is the transformation of spatial possibilities in a land-scarce nation that tries already to optimise the use of its limited natural resources.

An important feature of the Master Plan is the balance it seeks to strike between utility and aesthetics. A clear focus on the former goal is evident in the decision to build more homes in the Central Business District so that it does not turn into a ghost town at night. This will be done by giving developers a higher gross plot ratio - the permissible development intensity of a land parcel - so as to encourage them to convert ageing offices into hotels and homes. Also, new homes, both public and private, will be added in other mature towns. Housing cannot but continue to be crucial to Singapore's development. It was the emphasis on public housing in the 1960s that enabled residents with largely diasporic ancestry to turn Singapore from a place of passage into a home worth building and defending. Today, ambitious improvements in both public and private housing help to anchor residents to Singapore. Underground plans for Marina Bay, Jurong Innovation District and Punggol Digital District represent the need to dig deeper into the ground so as to free up space above for continued development.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2019, with the headline 'Opening new vistas for Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe