HDB to build diverse flat types, keep prices affordable for housing estates in prime locations

Prime locations include the Greater Southern Waterfront, which stretches from the Gardens by the Bay East area to Pasir Panjang. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A range of housing types will be built in upcoming estates in prime locations such as the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) to ensure that all public housing estates will have a good mix of Singaporeans, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

These include smaller housing types such as two-room flats for seniors and rental housing for low-income families, depending on the planning parameters and the needs of different housing types, but are "deliberately injected", he said in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao.

Mr Lee acknowledged the "lottery effect" of these well-located Housing Board flats, which may result in a "likely windfall" for home owners who sell these government-subsidised build-to-order (BTO) flats on the resale market.

There is the issue of "inclusiveness and diversity" when these flats are allowed to be resold after the five-year minimum occupation period, he said.

"If it's going to be sold and transacted at high resale prices, then there is a risk that only well-off Singaporeans can buy (flats in) those estates. And then of course, the character of the estates will change and it may be priced beyond the reach of ordinary Singaporeans," he said.

"We do not want to have estates that are gentrified and that only the wealthy can afford to live (in). We want to have a good mix."

To achieve that, besides introducing diverse housing, he noted that the pricing of flats must be kept affordable at the first sale by HDB and also in resales.

"We may need a series of other measures to ensure that if resale is permitted for these flats, that they remain affordable for generations to come," said Mr Lee, without specifying the measures.

"People will, of course, pay what they believe the market can bear in order to get these very good flats and very good locations. So some of these measures would have to cover all these fronts," he added.

He cited GSW as one example of a prime site but noted that the timeline is "quite far down the line".

"But there may be other sites with very prime attributes that might be rolled out in the months and years ahead," he said.

Mr Lee said HDB will seek public suggestions and feedback through engagement sessions over the next few months.

"We will want to make sure that these public discussions are held, people's views are obtained and then we can come up with a model that we could potentially apply in the near term," he said.

First announced in 2013, the GSW comprises 30km of coastline stretching from the Gardens by the Bay East area to Pasir Panjang.

The 2,000ha mega waterfront development - six times the size of Marina Bay and twice the size of Punggol - was sketched out by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his 2019 National Day Rally speech.

About 9,000 private and public housing units will be built on the site of Keppel Golf Club as part of the GSW, with future housing available on other sites too.

Mr Lee said that even as HDB is constantly reviewing and evolving public housing policies to be responsive to Singaporeans' changing demographics and aspirations, core values remain.

"We want to keep the character of all our HDB estates inclusive and diverse and to enable Singaporeans, ordinary Singaporeans, to also be able to live in parts of Singapore that one will consider as prime," he said.

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