SINGAPORE - A greener and deeper Singapore is in the works, with a new 50km Greater Rustic Coast running along the northern coast as well as district-level underground plans unveiled on Wednesday (March 27) by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) at its Draft Master Plan 2019 (DMP19) exhibition.
The Master Plan is a statutory land use plan that guides Singapore's development in the next 10 to 15 years, and is reviewed every five years.
Other highlights in the showcase were a 24km "green vein" called the Rail Corridor running through Singapore that will be connected by 2021, an additional 1,000ha of parks and park connectors, as well as a rejuvenation of the central area including Orchard Road.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong noted that the Central Business District (CBD) is "largely mono-use" today, with mainly office developments. He aims 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".
To achieve this, he said the URA will introduce a new CBD incentive scheme offering increased gross plot ratio to encourage the conversion of existing office developments to hotel and residential uses. This will apply to the Anson Road, Cecil Street, Shenton Way, Robinson Road and Tanjong Pagar areas.
"Beyond the CBD, we also want to encourage private developers and building owners to consider rejuvenating their existing buildings, especially if they are older," he said.
This will be done via another new scheme to encourage building owners to work together to "comprehensively redevelop" adjacent properties. This Strategic Development Incentive will offer an increase in gross plot ratio and flexibility on other development controls, said Mr Wong.
Meanwhile, three-dimensional underground maps of Marina Bay, Jurong Innovation District and Punggol Digital District were rolled out at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road as part of the Master Plan for the first time, with the view of eventually creating a seamless subterranean map for the country.
URA chief planner Hwang Yu-Ning told the media that while the guiding principles for DMP19 remain largely the same as the previous Master Plan, some things, such as the creation of an underground Master Plan, are new.
She said: "The underground plans are part of our strategy to create spaces for the future and create capacity for our growth."
Ms Hwang added that the map, which will detail infrastructure such as utilities and storage facilities, aims to provide transparency for developers and building owners so that they are able to better plan for developments.
Building underground will also optimise land use by saving ground space for higher-value purposes.
One example she gave was Singapore's first 230kV underground substation, which will be integrated with a commercial building and located next to Labrador Park MRT station. It is scheduled to be ready by 2025 and will free up 3ha of land above ground for development.
There are also plans to build deeper. Besides existing caverns such as the Jurong Rock Caverns, an underground storage facility for liquid hydrocarbon that goes more than 100m deep, there are ongoing cavern studies by statutory boards JTC and PUB which will help identify potential cavern spaces for industrial, utility and storage use.
Singaporeans can also look forward to a greener island. In fact, more than 90 per cent of households here will eventually be within a 10-minute walking distance, or 400m, of a park in future, while a million people will live within a kilometre of the Rail Corridor.
The corridor will run through the country, connecting Woodlands Regional Centre, which will feature a new agri-food and innovation park, to future housing in Choa Chu Kang, before running through Queenstown down to the Greater Southern Waterfront, a future mixed-use district of over 2,000ha that will extend from Pasir Panjang to Marina East.
Up north, Changi will be connected to Lim Chu Kang via the coast through the Greater Rustic Coast - a 50km stretch that will link areas of military and industrial heritage, recreation and biodiversity.
Even the most urbanised areas will feature a touch of green. Orchard Road will become a lush green urban corridor that connects the Singapore Botanic Gardens to Fort Canning Park, as part of efforts to rejuvenate the central area.
Overall, in future, there will be about 1,000ha more parks and park connectors.
The CBD as well as the Singapore River and Civic District will also be revitalised to maximise land use after office hours and on the weekends.
One option, said Ms Hwang, is to tap vacant state properties, some of which are in Maxwell Road and Sultan Gate.
"The adaptive reuse of existing buildings is about creating opportunities for new users to go into these old buildings that are not yet ready for rejuvenation or redevelopment," she said. "This could add new interest to different precincts and bring new life to the places."
The public will be able to contribute ideas on how to utilise such spaces in the short term.
Ms Hwang added that another way to inject more vibrancy to the CBD is to introduce more housing to the area. More units are expected in areas such as Downtown, Marina South and Rochor.
Across the island, there will be more residences in areas such as Bayshore, Dakota Crescent and Farrer Park. The site occupied by the Keppel Club will also be redeveloped for housing.
Ms Hwang said: "In this new Master Plan, we hope to have inclusive, sustainable and green neighbourhoods that will make our city more resilient in the longer term. We are also working on plans to help rejuvenate existing familiar places, to make sure we bring in new energy and vibrancy to these areas."
DMP19 exhibition will be held at The URA Centre Atrium until May 24. The public can provide feedback here.