More homes planned in city centre to inject vibrancy

Over 20,000 new homes likely in Central Area; CBD Incentive Scheme to convert ageing offices

An artist's impression of an urban neighbourhood at Anson Road.
An artist's impression of an urban neighbourhood at Anson Road.PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
An artist's impression of the future Farrer Park.
An artist's impression of the future Farrer Park.PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
Visitors viewing the exhibition on the Draft Master Plan 2019 at The URA Centre on March 27, 2019.
Visitors viewing the exhibition on the Draft Master Plan 2019 at The URA Centre on March 27, 2019.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

More than 20,000 homes could be built in the city centre, which the Central Business District (CBD) is part of, so that it does not become a ghost town at night.

This is more than a third of the current 50,000 flats in the Central Area.

On top of this, the Government will give developers a higher gross plot ratio - a measure of how intensely a land parcel can be developed - to nudge developers to convert ageing offices into hotels and homes.

Announcing the CBD Incentive Scheme at the launch of the Draft Master Plan yesterday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong noted that the district is largely mono-use today.

"We want to introduce a broader mix of uses so that the CBD is not only a place to work, but also a vibrant place to live and play," he said.

Other highlights include a new 50km Greater Rustic Coast along the northern coast and three-dimensional district-level underground plans to help building owners and developers plan for the future.

The CBD Incentive Scheme, which will kick in when the Master Plan is gazetted later this year, will apply to the Anson Road, Cecil Street, Shenton Way, Robinson Road and Tanjong Pagar areas. There are currently over 3,000 dwelling units there.

Predominantly office buildings, which have been built or significantly refurbished at least 20 years ago, are eligible.

They will get a plot ratio increase of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent, depending on their location and land use, which could range from a hotel to a condominium with some shops on the ground floor.


This may help inject new life into this major business node, and see streets filled with hip restaurants, bars and boutique gyms, which have emerged in fringe CBD areas like Boat Quay, Circular Road and Telok Ayer.

The CBD Incentive Scheme, as well as another to rejuvenate ageing commercial buildings islandwide, will replace the Bonus Plot Ratio Scheme introduced in 1989.

The Draft Master Plan guides Singapore's development over the next 10 to 15 years and is reviewed every five years.

The authorities also plan to introduce new homes in Marina Bay and Marina South, for example, through the Government Land Sales programme. But the breakdown on the number of housing units and development timeframe for the various areas will be subject to market conditions, said an Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesman.

The plan would "bring more homes to where jobs are, and cut down on commuting times for workers to and from work", the URA said in an earlier statement.

Housing plans for other neighbourhoods in the Central Area - like Rochor, Farrer Park, which will have a sporting emphasis, or Keppel, which will feature waterfront housing - are still under detailed study.

Outside of the Central Area, there will be 42,000 new homes in Tengah, 4,000 in Kampong Bugis and 10,000 in Bayshore near the East Coast in the near term, said the URA spokesman.

Also, public housing in Dakota Crescent will be planned around six preserved Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) blocks and an iconic playground from the 1950s.

As for the Greater Southern Waterfront and Paya Lebar Air Base, they will be developed only in the longer term, so "we have not embarked on detailed planning for these areas", she added.

Other neighbourhoods that will see new homes include Tanglin Halt in Queenstown, and Springleaf in Yio Chu Kang. Details will come later.

The Draft Master Plan 2019 will be exhibited at the URA Centre until May 24. Members of the public can send their feedback on the draft plan to the URA.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2019, with the headline 'More homes planned in city centre to inject vibrancy'. Subscribe