Thursday 21 November 2013

URA Draft Master Plan 2013

Shaping Singapore: New homes, bold plans
New waterfront city on 1,000ha; eco-friendly estates; land for 500,000 housing units
By Melissa Tan, The Straits Times, 20 Nov 2013

CYCLING paths, walkways, green corridors, a new waterfront city and enhancements to already much-loved areas are all envisioned in a new blueprint drawn up by the nation's planners.

The sweeping plan unveiled today points to how the country could develop over the next decade or so, and the central themes that will drive the process.

It is part pragmatic - more homes, better transport - but also reaches for the more intangible goals of greater community interaction in a cleaner, greener, more liveable nation.

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan had said in a blog post on Monday that "the underlying philosophy of making Singapore an endearing home and a clean, green, liveable city remains unchanged".

More homes will come up in new housing areas at Bidadari, Tampines North and Punggol Matilda, as well as in the established estates such as Sembawang, Yishun, Hougang and Choa Chu Kang. In total, enough land has been earmarked for 500,000 new homes - mostly public housing.

The ambitions are detailed in the Draft Master Plan 2013, which guides land use over the next 10 to 15 years with revisions every five years.

The big-ticket item this time is an entirely new area called the Greater Southern Waterfront, to be developed on 1,000ha on the south coastline.

A district called Marina South will also take shape next to Marina Bay with eco-friendly features, including bike paths and an 800m-long car-free street.

Holland Village will be extended by 6ha within the next two years to include a mixed-use private residential project, more housing and a new community park. The developments could add 1,500 homes to the area.

The district, known for its eclectic mix of shops and urban village vibe, was also added to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) list of "identity nodes" - designating that they are special heritage sites - along with Jalan Kayu and the iconic Serangoon Garden circus near Chomp Chomp food centre.

About 18ha in Kampong Bugis will be developed after 2016 and could yield about 4,000 private homes, while a 21.5ha piece of land in Marina South will likely be developed after 2017 or 2018, near the completion of the Thomson Line. It could have around 9,000 private homes.

The two districts are slated to become environmentally friendly estates with fewer cars, more greenery, fenceless precincts and tree-lined walkways.

These features are aimed at fostering greater community interaction and creating a more conductive environment for pedestrians and cyclists, URA said, adding that a national cycling code of conduct would be developed.

More community spaces in other estates are also on the cards. This includes new town plazas in Bedok and Yishun.

Another major aim of the draft plan is to decentralise jobs further to cut commuting time and ease congestion while continuing to grow the Central Business District (CBD) and Marina Bay.

Major commercial clusters will be developed in the Woodlands Regional Centre and along the rest of the North Coast Innovation Corridor, which stretches to Punggol. Land will be set aside for small and medium-sized enterprises in Woodlands, which will also house the first business park cluster in northern Singapore.

In Punggol, a learning corridor and creative cluster will spring up around a new tertiary institution.

New industrial sites will also sprout in the west and north-east in areas such as Seletar Aerospace Park, the Defu industrial estate and an integrated industrial township near Nanyang Technological University called 2 West.

A new retail and entertainment spine will be created in Bayfront Avenue in the CBD.

On the recreation front, more greenery will be integrated into housing estates across the island, and green spaces such as nature areas and parks will be expanded.

URA also put up several preliminary ideas for the future development of the Greater Southern Waterfront. Suggestions include making a new reservoir in the south between Tanjong Pagar and Pulau Brani accompanied by a network of streetside canals.

The Draft Master Plan 2013 will be exhibited at the URA Centre from today until Dec 19. Admission is free. Members of the public can send their feedback on the draft plan to URA.


THE Draft Master Plan 2013 guides Singapore's land use over the next 10 to 15 years and is revised every five years.

Over the past five years, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has received and sought feedback on its plans from the public through various channels.

Recently, it carried out consultation meetings with MPs and key grassroots leaders from various constituencies. It also conducted focus group discussions on topics like greenery, cycling and the Woodlands Regional Centre. The feedback and ideas generated from these sessions helped refine and improve URA's review of the Master Plan.

After taking in the feedback, the draft will be finalised in the first half of next year. URA will use this as a basis for future developments.

Where: URA Centre, ground-floor atrium, 45 Maxwell Road. Admission is free.

When: Nov 20 to Dec 19; Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am to 6.30pm; Saturdays, 9am to 5pm. Closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Online: See draft plan and highlights at

Feedback can be given via the website. Objection to or representation on proposals must be given in writing to the Ministry of National Development by Dec 19.

Serangoon Garden, Jalan Kayu, Holland Village to be preserved
URA designates the three areas as identity nodes in view of their distinctive character
By Sumita D/O Sreedharan, TODAY, 20 Nov 2013

It is one of the oldest estates around and was once known as Ang Sar Lee (Red Roof in Hokkien) for the red zinc roofs in the neighbourhood. Now, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is drawing up plans to help preserve the identity of Serangoon Garden and the low-rise nature of the estate, and retain its iconic roundabout. Close to the famous Chomp Chomp Food Centre, Serangoon Garden Circus connects Serangoon Garden Way to Kensington Park Road and Chartwell Drive.

The estate, along with Jalan Kayu and Holland Village, is being added to the URA’s list of identity nodes that have been earmarked for preservation, in view of their strong and distinctive identities that resonate with Singaporeans. Their proposed inclusion was announced today by the URA at the unveiling of its draft Master Plan.

The layout of the Serangoon Garden estate, coupled with its popularity as a food haunt, has led to parking woes and worsening traffic bottlenecks. This prompted the authorities to institute a restaurant ban last year, so that shophouses could no longer be converted into eateries.

To further preserve the character of the estate, the URA aims to draw up guidelines for the urban design of the vicinity and ensure new developments will fit in with Serangoon Garden’s character and charm.

Jalan Kayu — another popular destination for foodies, especially roti prata lovers — has also been designated as an identity node. Some enhancements the URA has in mind for this laid-back estate include improvements to its pavements, lush planting and improved connectivity to its nearest LRT station, Thanggam, along the Sengkang LRT line.

The third identity node, Holland Village, will be extended to include new public spaces and mixed-use developments. Popular for its eateries and cafes, Holland Village will have a new extension that will retain its “urban village” feel and pedestrian links to connect the streets to the town centre.

The three areas join a list of 15 areas, including Thomson Village, Pulau Ubin and Tanjong Katong, which were designated as Singapore’s Identity Nodes in URA’s Identity Plan in 2002. About 70 buildings — including places of worship, warehouses and notable buildings, such as Alexandra Hospital, Queenstown Library and the former field assistant’s house at the Singapore Botanic Gardens — have also been gazetted for conservation under the latest Master Plan, which will be finalised next year. About 7,100 heritage buildings have been conserved by the URA over the past 23 years.

No more just counting economic value of land
Approach caters to the average S'porean, encourages community integration
By Ignatius Low, The Straits Times, 20 Nov 2013

EVERY five years, Singapore's city planners unveil an ambitious document that serves as the overarching "grand plan" for the development of the island for the next two decades or so.

There are shiny new residential precincts with park and sea vistas, future-ready office and industrial areas linked physically and electronically to the global economy, and ever more exciting hubs for entertainment and recreation.

In that sense, the just-released 2013 Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Draft Master Plan checks all the boxes.

But look at some of the specifications of the plan up close and you will start to see how it is also very much a response to the emerging "hot-button" issues of its time.

The most obvious of these is the problem of the widening gap between rich and poor.

The Government is tackling this through a variety of measures, including more subsidies for the needy and a generally more progressive tax structure.

But it is often at the urban planner's table where the political battle is potentially lost or won.

For the ordinary man in the street will not be excited at all about plans to redevelop prime downtown land if it will eventually be filled with posh waterfront homes that only the very rich can afford to buy and enjoy.

Or if it will be used to bring in more casinos, global shows or sporting events that seem to appeal to only a select group of well-off international or business tourists.

This is why the URA has taken pains to design new precincts like Marina South, Kampong Bugis and even the upcoming giant Greater Southern Waterfront such that they can remain accessible to the average Singaporean and encourage "community interaction".

Two features stand out, the first being that the residential developments there will not be gated areas that are residents-only.

Instead, these high-end condos will be "fenceless" - meaning that they will be part of a public area of shops, cafes and restaurants that anyone can go to.

It's a model that can already be seen in a place like Robertson Quay, where upstairs the apartments cost millions of dollars but downstairs, people of any income bracket can go for breakfast or an evening drink.

The other notable feature of these precincts is that they seem to have been purposefully designed for the enjoyment of people who do not have a car, which today has become an unaffordable luxury for a majority of Singaporeans.

In fact, cars are being relegated to something of an afterthought - there will be fewer parking spaces than usual and they will all be tucked away out of sight in underground basements.

Instead, pedestrians and cyclists will rule the roost with wide, open walkways, some elevated with spectacular views, and all seamlessly and generously connected to various train lines and stations.

Elsewhere in the masterplan, the URA has paid attention to issues which have captured the attention of a new generation of younger Singaporeans.

Many have become increasingly vocal in recent years about the need to better weigh the benefits of urban redevelopment against its impact on the natural environment, as well as the heritage value of the built environment.

Therefore, one key initiative in the masterplan is the introduction of what the URA calls "nature ways".

In the past, urban planners have been careful to preserve patches of green even as land is culled for homes, offices and roads. But nature enthusiasts have argued that birds and animals do not thrive in these unnaturally isolated patches.

The challenge now for urban planners is to think of innovative ways to link these patches up - such as replanting over expressways.

Already 60km of such "nature ways" are being put in place by 2015 - a more sensitive treatment of green spaces, and not just for the sake of its human users, that just a decade ago was unheard of.

In line with the increasing resonance that heritage issues are having with the young, the masterplan is also big on protecting places that are, in its own words, "meaningful to Singaporeans".

This may not seem like a fresh idea, but it is worth noting that the URA is now resolutely moving towards conserving places with almost zero architectural merit.

Indeed, some places it has identified as new "identity nodes" to be spruced up and rejuvenated, like Jalan Kayu, are little more than a collection of old shophouses and eating joints.

There are more interesting little nuggets in the masterplan - from super-efficient pneumatic refuse collection systems and heritage trails in humble heartland housing estates to a target of placing 90 per cent of all residents here within 400m of a park.

It all adds up to an altogether more responsive and thoughtful approach to urban planning that's no longer driven by something as simplistic as the economic value of land, and may sit better with the increasingly intangible aspirations of the new Singaporean.

Ideas to liven up Civic District
By Cheryl Ong, The Straits Times, 23 Nov 2013

THE area surrounding modern Singapore's historic birthplace is being transformed to include welcoming open spaces, performance areas and walking paths, under a broader move to create new public spaces and liven up existing ones.

The ideas are to make the country a more liveable place by creating more walkways and making existing public spaces more user-friendly - an aim clearly seen in the vision outlined by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday.

The area, termed the Civic and Cultural District by the Bay, will be enhanced as Singapore's cultural and historic crown jewel. It encompasses the former Supreme Court and City Hall, Old Parliament House and Padang, Asian Civilisations Museum, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and the Esplanade Theatre.

In the next two years, Old Parliament Lane and Empress Lane will become a pedestrian path.

Connaught Drive will be narrowed by a lane and through-traffic diverted away, while the Formula One track at Fullerton Road in front of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall could be realigned to create a large lawn.

Pedestrians will get more benches and trees, while playgrounds, public art and performance infrastructure will be built.

The URA is now seeking public feedback, so it can nail down the revamp and implement it along with the opening of the National Art Gallery and refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall in time for Singapore's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2015.

In the longer term, there are proposals to close Anderson Bridge, Fullerton Road, St Andrew's Road and Parliament Place to vehicular traffic temporarily, for special events.

Some arts groups are excited about the prospect of more space to stage events.

Singapore Repertory Theatre executive director Charlotte Nors said any initiative bringing theatre and the arts closer to the audience is welcomed.

Music teacher Samantha Chan, 23, who frequents the concert hall, said drawing crowds to the cultural enclave will help build awareness of the arts.

There are proposals on the table too for Rochor Road, Tanjong Pagar Centre and Punggol, which will get a new town square, as well as Bedok, where a plaza and hawker centre will be built.

The URA has earmarked The Lawn @ Marina Bay, areas along the Singapore River Promenade, an open space in Kampong Glam and Woodlands Civic Plaza for enhancements as well.

URA has bold ideas to balance development, conservation: PM Lee
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 4 Dec 2013

THE Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) new blueprint for the country has "bold ideas" to balance development with conservation and green space, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post yesterday.

"How to allow new development, while protecting space for green living and conservation on our little island, is a constant challenge," he wrote.

"Urban Redevelopment Authority's team has come up with bold ideas to strike a good balance, and improve our quality of life."

What makes Singapore our home? Some things that matter: living with or near our loved ones, spending more time with...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, December 2, 2013

Among the plans he highlighted were more jobs closer to people's homes, 90 per cent of households living within 400m of parks and 700km of cycling routes integrated with the public transport network.

He invited readers to read National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan's blog post yesterday on the same subject.

Mr Khaw wrote that the response to the Draft Master Plan 2013 has been "very encouraging", with 20,000 people visiting the exhibition at the URA Centre in its first week.

The plan guides land use over the next 10 to 15 years, with revisions every five years.

URA is seeking feedback on proposals such as community-friendly, fenceless residential precincts with fewer cars, planning of cycling routes, shaping public spaces and developing the Southern Waterfront area.

Mr Khaw added that the cycling community has been sharing ideas with URA and is excited about the plans to promote cycling as a green mode of transport.

"There has also been positive feedback on our plans to enhance the Civic District into a pedestrian-friendly precinct," he said.

Besides the exhibition, the plans are also detailed online at Mr Khaw noted that there have been close to 250,000 unique visitors to the website.

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