More Sers projects soon?

Eight HDB blocks on West Coast Road have been picked for redevelopment, with residents to be offered new replacement units at Clementi Avenue 1 and West Coast Link. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

After a two-year break, another set of Housing Board blocks is up for redevelopment.

On Wednesday, the HDB announced that Blocks 513 to 520 West Coast Road had been picked for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).

This is the 80th Sers project but the first since June 2014, when 31 blocks in Tanglin Halt Road and Commonwealth Drive were picked for the largest Sers project ever.

The scheme, which began in 1995, involves tearing down old flats, relocating the residents to new projects nearby and redeveloping the old site. Projects were frequent in the early years, with 61 announced up till the end of 2005.

But the pace has slowed. The previous Sers announcement before Tanglin Halt was in June 2012, for two blocks in Woodlands.

Still, there are reasons to believe that more may be on the way soon.

In his first blog post after taking over as National Development Minister in October last year, Mr Lawrence Wong expressed an interest in rejuvenating old estates.

"Improving our HDB towns built in the 70s and 80s to meet changing needs will also be my focus, so that Singapore remains an endearing home for everyone," he said.

The latest batch of Sers flats in West Coast Road dates back to 1979.

Granted, improving old towns can take place in other ways. There is the Remaking Our Heartland programme, which improves public spaces such as town centres, parks and pedestrian paths. The third batch of estates for this - Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Pasir Ris - was named last year.

Individual homes also benefit from the Home Improvement Programme, where repairs such as replacement of pipes are done for free. There are also options such as upgrading toilets and installing elder-friendly features.

But the great advantage of Sers is that it means more intensive use of land. Given Singapore's perennial space constraints, Sers might therefore be the preferred approach wherever possible.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'More Sers projects soon?'. Subscribe