Strong demand likely for future HDB flats in Mount Pleasant area, say analysts

Around 5,000 new HDB flats will be built on the site of the Old Police Academy in the Mount Pleasant area. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Future Housing Board flats in the Mount Pleasant housing estate are likely to see strong demand because of their central location, proximity to an MRT station and existing amenities in surrounding towns, say property analysts.

As a result of their accessibility, these flats are expected to command prices reflective of mature estates, in particular those surrounding Mount Pleasant, analysts told The Straits Times.

On Tuesday (Nov 23), National Development Minister Desmond Lee announced that some 5,000 HDB flats will be built on the Old Police Academy site, with the first Build-To-Order (BTO) project there to be launched within the next five years.

There are currently no plans for private housing on the site.

The 33ha estate, about one-third the size of Bidadari, is bounded by Thomson Road and the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE). It is located close to the mature town of Toa Payoh.

Residents at the upcoming estate will be served by the Mount Pleasant MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line, which will open in tandem with the completion of the BTO projects.

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said prices there may be similar to those for BTO launches in Toa Payoh or Bidadari.

A five-room BTO flat in Bidadari, launched in February this year, had a starting price of $611,000, while a four-room flat opened at $464,000.

Last February, prices for a four-room BTO flat in Toa Payoh started at about $400,000 and went up to $666,000.

Huttons Asia senior research director Lee Sze Teck also estimated that a five-room flat in Mount Pleasant would be in the $600,000 range, although he noted that the later the flats are launched, the more the prices would creep up.

The authorities, however, have not indicated if five-room flats would be built, saying only that the housing estate is still in the conceptual stage and details have yet to be firmed up.

Five-room HDB flats are typically not offered at BTO projects in mature estates such as Toa Payoh, Bishan and Queenstown. Since 2015, Bidadari has been the only centrally located mature housing estate where five-room units have been launched for sale.

The Alkaff Courtview estate in Bidadari. Since 2015, Bidadari has been the only centrally located mature housing estate where five-room BTO flats have been launched for sale.. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

HDB has previously cited the lack of land as one of the reasons for the limited supply of five-room BTO flats in mature areas.

When asked if flats in the Mount Pleasant estate would fall under the new prime location public housing (PLH) model, which imposes stricter ownership conditions, HDB said it would assess the site attributes and announce more details when they are ready.

Mr Nicholas Mak, ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy, said it is unlikely that the Mount Pleasant public housing estate will be considered a truly prime location.

"It's accessible to the city but it's not really near the city, which is the Government's criteria for a prime area. If you compare a BTO site in Mount Pleasant to a BTO site in nearby Toa Payoh, I would say that Toa Payoh is more attractive but yet Toa Payoh is not considered prime," said Mr Mak.

The authorities have said that Toa Payoh and Bishan would not come under the PLH model.

Besides the site of the new housing estate, the majority of the land around Mount Pleasant is also zoned for residential use in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan, including a stretch along Thomson Road where a number of plant nurseries are located.

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Mr Mak said the upcoming Mount Pleasant housing estate could help rejuvenate the nearby Toa Payoh town with its amenities, or potentially even provide Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) replacement flats for such projects in Toa Payoh, although they would be a little farther away than what residents offered Sers flats might want.

He added that it is significant to announce a new estate in a central area that is reserved solely for public housing as it fulfils aspirations to afford housing in a well-connected mature area.

Said Mr Mak: "Usually new towns are located far away from the city centre, such as Punggol and Tengah. So it's quite rare to have a new estate in such a central location, although it is a lot smaller in land size."

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