S'pore 'yet to reach physical limits' for development

A detailed plan for Jurong Lake District featuring car-lite, innovative urban spaces and a mix of commercial and residential developments will be fleshed out after one of the five shortlisted planning teams is appointed as consultant by January 2017.
A detailed plan for Jurong Lake District featuring car-lite, innovative urban spaces and a mix of commercial and residential developments will be fleshed out after one of the five shortlisted planning teams is appointed as consultant by January 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore has yet to reach its physical limits where development is concerned, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong yesterday.

With a nod to plans in the pipeline such as Changi Airport's Terminal 5 and Jurong Lake District, he said: "We have not reached our physical limits. There is a lot more we can do, and must do, to build our infrastructure for the future."

Urban planners contacted yesterday agreed that Singapore has yet to reach its building potential but also emphasised the need to balance development with liveability.

Former Urban Redevelopment Authority planner Chua Yang Liang said: "We still have physical room to accommodate further growth, but we need to constantly balance it with the overall 'quality of life'."

Added Dr Steven Choo, chairman of real estate services firm VestAsia Group: "It's always a question of... balancing social with economic and environmental aspects. You need to make sure you don't develop at the expense of the next generation."

But with technology, there is more that Singapore can do, said the planners. For instance, it can look at more vertical farming, and adopt innovative methods - such as underground infrastructure and floating platforms supporting buildings on the sea. Mixed-use developments and more "multi-layered city living" are also ways of making the most of space as the city develops, suggested Dr Chua."Space shrinkage may be compensated for with better communal spaces, allowing people to interact more," he said.

To increase liveability, Professor Heng Chye Kiang, an architecture academic from the National University of Singapore, called for more communal spaces for seniors. It is also important to have a "walkable" cityscape with more public spaces that foster community bonding.

Toh Wen Li

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore 'yet to reach physical limits' for development'. Print Edition | Subscribe