More than $1b to be spent on upgrading projects for public, private housing estates over next few years: Lawrence Wong

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong speaking at the annual MND Huddle at Fort Canning Park on Oct 11, 2019.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong speaking at the annual MND Huddle at Fort Canning Park on Oct 11, 2019.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - More than $1 billion will be spent on upgrading projects for both public and private housing estates over the next few years.

Announcing this on Friday (Oct 11), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said at the annual MND Huddle at Fort Canning Park: "This will provide support for our industry partners in the current economic climate."

The projects will also provide more opportunities for "our consultants and contractors, who are our important partners", he said.

More details on which estates will be spruced up and when, will be announced later.

A key project to be launched for public housing estates from next year onwards will be the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) for flats built between 1987 and 1997, Mr Wong said.

"We will start with a first batch of 55,000 flats which are already 30 or more years old. We will schedule the remaining 175,000 flats progressively, when the flats are about 30 years old. We should be able to complete the upgrading over the next 10 or more years," he said.

Previously available only for flats built up to 1986, the expansion of the HIP was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally in 2018.

Fully subsidised upgrades involve improvements within the flat, for example fixing spalling concrete and replacing waste pipes.

Home owners can also opt for other improvements like bathroom upgrading, at subsidised rates.

Since the HIP was introduced in 2007, more than half of the 320,000 eligible flats under the 1986 age band have been upgraded.

Collectively, the Government expects to spend more than $4 billion to upgrade these flats.

 
 
 
 

Mr Wong said that MND is also changing the way it goes about the upgrading projects.

Currently, town councils or government agencies work with consultants to draw up plans that are then presented to the residents. Feedback is collated and plans fine-tuned before the work starts, he said.

"The process is not bad, but certainly can be improved. We want to involve residents at the early stages of the project even in the design and planning stages. This will take more time and effort but residents will have a stronger stake in their estate and have a greater ownership over their common spaces," Mr Wong said.

Another priority is to make the living environment greener and more sustainable, the minister added.

Parks are a key focus of this plan, Mr Wong said, adding that MND will set aside more than 50 parks - new as well as existing ones that are due for redevelopment and upgrading - that local communities can be involved in.

From what features they would like to how they can be involved in works such as mural painting and even park management, the idea is to get as many people involved as possible.

He said: "So these will be citizen parks - parks where Singaporeans will truly have a hand in designing and developing for our fellow Singaporeans."