Now known more for its industrial estates and HDB homes, the Jurong Lake District is gearing up for its reincarnation as Singapore's second Central Business District - a development the Government hopes can kick-start the country's next phase of economic transformation.
While the financial heart of the country is in the CBD south of the Singapore River, its ambition is for Jurong to become a second nucleus, anchored by sectors such as maritime services, energy and IT.
They could yield some 100,000 new jobs, due to the district's proximity to the upcoming High Speed Rail (HSR) terminus and Tuas mega-port, based on a draft masterplan the Urban Redevelopment Authority made public yesterday.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said: "It can be the catalyst for Singapore's next phase of economic transformation, in the same way that Jurong Industrial Estate kick-started our manufacturing sector more than 50 years ago."
There are also plans to build 20,000 new homes. It is not clear yet what the mix between public and private homes will be.
The planners want to introduce new ways of living and getting around. For instance, the district will be as car-lite as possible, with public transport-only zones, limited parking and a logistics hub outside it to minimise the number of delivery trucks in the area.
There will also be a district-wide cooling system to pipe cool air directly into homes to save energy. There will also be 16ha of new parks.
In total, the district will span 360ha, about one-fifth the size of the current CBD. The masterplan could be finalised as early as 2019.
But as the plans are expected to materialise only from 2040, some flexibility is worked in: The district will be divided into grids, allowing land parcels of varying sizes to be sold. Most of the area will be zoned "white", an arrangement allowing uses from residential to business. The Government is looking to start land sales in the next few years.
The Jurong Lake District comes after the establishment of regional centres in Tampines in 1992 and Woodlands in 2014 as part of a decentralisation strategy to bring jobs nearer to homes and alleviate congestion in central Singapore. A fourth, Seletar, is in the works.
Ms Yvonne Lim, URA's group director for physical planning, also said the new district differs from other nodes given its strong emphasis on residential living with more than 40 per cent of the mixed-use area around the HSR to be set aside for homes, public transport-only zones and proximity to a lake.
Property analysts, however, urged caution to prevent an oversupply of office and retail space.
Cushman & Wakefield research director Christine Li said the target of 100,000 new jobs would translate to about 9 million sq ft of office space - more than five times the current stock there.
"There is the question of whether URA will reduce future supply of land parcels in Marina Bay to reduce the risk of an oversupply of office space islandwide."
Meanwhile, JLL research and consultancy head Tay Huey Ying said "most businesses still need that financial push to locate outside the CBD", and suggested a rental gap of at least 60 per cent - almost double the 34 per cent now.
The draft masterplan is being exhibited at the URA Centre Atrium until Thursday, and at Westgate Mall from Sept 8-17. The plans can also be found online at www.jld.sg
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