Private developers may have role in redeveloping older flats

MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LAWRENCE WONG.
MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LAWRENCE WONG.

They may be involved in Vers as Govt works out best way to implement scheme, says minister

Private developers may have a role in redeveloping ageing Housing Board flats as the Government studies how best to implement a new scheme for such homes.

Yesterday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in Parliament that he "will not rule (private developers) out" for the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (Vers), which was introduced last month to pace out the redevelopment of old flats over 20 to 30 years.

But even if private developers are involved, "let's be very clear that our aim is to redevelop public housing estates, so we will ensure that any redevelopment is done in a way that preserves the character of our HDB towns and supports HDB's mission to provide affordable and quality homes for Singaporeans", he said.

Responding to Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan), Mr Wong said that private developers are already "from time to time" involved in some Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) sites.

He did not name these sites, but an upcoming Holland Village extension with retail shops and homes, which was tendered out to private developers, will be built on land acquired earlier under Sers. Also, the site of five old HDB blocks in Zion Road has been earmarked for a future hotel, as well as new homes.

Mr Wong also assured Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC) that flats picked for Sers-limited to HDB flats with high redevelopment potential - would not be held back or affected by Vers. That is because many of these sites have already been selected, he said. Sers affects about 5 per cent of all HDB flats.

FOCUS ON MISSION

Let's be very clear that our aim is to redevelop public housing estates, so we will ensure that any redevelopment is done in a way that preserves the character of our HDB towns and supports HDB's mission to provide affordable and quality homes for Singaporeans.

MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LAWRENCE WONG

 

Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) also asked how the Government would prevent any Vers exercise from turning acrimonious, as has been the case in some private sites that were sold en bloc.

Mr Wong replied that the HDB is mindful of the possibility, but added that the agency is not new to garnering votes for upgrading programmes, such as for lift upgrading or the Home Improvement Programme.

"We have some experience, we will build on that experience, we will see what has been done in the private sector, and we will work out what is the best possible arrangement for Vers in order to achieve the outcomes that we want, while minimising some of the downsides that the member has highlighted," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2018, with the headline 'Private developers may have role in redeveloping older flats'. Print Edition | Subscribe