Sungei Road market may not get its new lease of life at Golden Mile Tower carpark

Visitors throng the Sungei Road Thieves Market on its last day, on July 10, 2017. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Sungei Road market's planned comeback at the rooftop carpark of Golden Mile Tower has hit a snag, with carpark owner LHN Group saying it has second thoughts about renting the space to the vendors.

No formal agreement was struck, an LHN Group spokesman said.

He said things were only at the discussion stage.

Yet, the market's association hired a contractor to start demarcating vendor lots on the sixth floor of the carpark on Tuesday (July 11) without its permission, he said.

LHN Group has since lodged a police report for what it described as an act of vandalism. The police confirmed that a report was filed on Wednesday (July 12).

The Straits Times understands that the complaint pertains to the contractor painting the carpark floors without authorisation.

The LHN Group spokesman said: "Yes, there is interest on our part (to rent the space out as a flea market) but we have yet to agree on anything and they assumed they can move in and use the place on Saturday (July 15)."

He added that the market's association also needs to apply for permits from the relevant government agencies such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The URA told The Straits Times on Wednesday night it has yet to receive any application. Separately, the applicant will need to obtain clearances from technical agencies (such as Singapore Civil Defence Force on fire safety) as well as the development's Management Corporation Strata Title before it can use the space.

In general, it takes about 10 working days to process change-of-use applications, URA added.

And even if the authorities grant approval, the LHN Group spokesman said it will now "have to think about it (going through with the arrangement)". It might be best to "cool off for a while", he said.

"With all the public interest in saving the market, what's going to happen if we later ask them to leave?"

All this means the hawkers' hopes of reopening the market at the potential new venue on Saturday are highly unlikely to materialise.

On Monday (July 10), the Sungei Road market's chairman, Mr Koh Eng Khoon, announced at a press conference following the hawking zone's closing ceremony that it had made arrangements for vendors to start selling their wares at the carpark from Saturday.

He provided details such as the size of each lot and the $10,000 monthly fee it would cost to rent the space. The URA also said then that "planning approval is required before the commencement of use" of the rooftop carpark.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday, Mr Koh said he and Dr Woon Tien Wei from the Save Sungei Road Market group met three LHN Group representatives on Tuesday.

He also confirmed that no written agreement was signed.

Mr Koh added that he has met the company two other times - once in late June and last Wednesday (July 5).

"I understood that up to that point, our discussions with the management were a verbal agreement, with the understanding that URA's approval is needed before vendors can open shop."

On the lot demarcation, he admitted: "I didn't inform them that workers would be drawing out the lots, so that is my fault."

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