Saturday, 30 August 2014

Commercial clusters to bring jobs closer to homes

WE THANK Mr Ng Ya Ken for his interest ("Second city for S'pore makes long-term sense"; last Friday).

One of our key planning strategies is indeed to create commercial clusters outside the city centre to provide job opportunities closer to homes, and reduce congestion and travelling times to and from the city centre.

We have progressively developed commercial clusters islandwide such as Tampines Regional Centre, Novena, one-north at Buona Vista and Changi Business Park.

In the west, Jurong Lake District is shaping up well to become the largest regional centre outside the city centre. A mix of office, retail, food and beverage (F&B) and entertainment uses are being added to Jurong Gateway, the district's commercial precinct, to meet the needs of residents, workers and visitors.

At the National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Jurong will be further transformed with the development of a community-centric Jurong Lake Gardens and a new Science Centre. Public transport systems such as road and rail will be enhanced in the coming years to support the development of the area. These new developments will shape the west into a great place to live, work and play.

In the north, we have started developing the Woodlands Regional Centre with the sale of the first office site in April. With more than 100ha of developable land as well as good transport connectivity, and surrounded by greenery and waterfront views, Woodlands Regional Centre is set to be Singapore's Northern Gateway.

When fully developed, Woodlands Regional Centre can provide approximately 100,000 new jobs and a good mix of retail and F&B offerings to residents in the north. It will also house the first business park in the north.

We are also planning for more high-value-added jobs in Punggol and Seletar Aerospace Park, and these will combine with the Woodlands Regional Centre to form the North Coast Innovation Corridor.

We are mindful that these decentralised commercial centres should not inadvertently create localised strains on our transport infrastructure. Jurong Lake District and Woodlands Regional Centre will be served by new MRT lines such as the Jurong Region Line, Cross Island Line and Thomson-East Coast Line. With jobs closer to home, alternative greener modes of mobility such as walking and cycling will in time become viable.

However, as we build up more commercial centres outside the city centre, there will still be demand for core financial and business services activities in our central business district (CBD) due to its prime central location, good connectivity and potential synergies with other businesses. We will continue to provide sufficient high-quality commercial space within our CBD and Marina Bay area.

Richard Hoo
Group Director (Strategic Planning)
Urban Redevelopment Authority
ST Forum, 29 Aug 2014

Second city for S'pore makes long-term sense

THERE has been a recent surge of property projects in Johor Baru and Iskandar Malaysia targeting Singaporeans.

As the world is becoming borderless, more of us will be investing in businesses and properties abroad.

Developments in the region, in some ways, complement and widen our economic opportunities.

But we should also put more efforts to redevelop Singapore.

As Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing has said, we have to compete against cities, not countries, to survive another 50 years.

In 50 years, our population could have grown beyond 6.9 million.

Many regional cities would be more populated and, perhaps, more modern and bustling than Singapore.

Is our single-city urban model the best or only way for Singapore to compete?

Our sole city already is one of the most expensive globally.

Building more MRT lines leading to it would only result in attracting more offices there, increasing rental and land prices.

This would make the city less attractive or viable for future developments, other than office skyscrapers and high-class apartments and hotels.

Besides offering lower rental, a second city built at the other tip of our island will divert traffic to the opposite direction during rush hours - the best strategy to tackle traffic congestion in our city-state in the long run.

We should incorporate unique features and facilities and state-of-the-art technologies into the second city, making it one that other global and regional cities would envy.

It is one of the best ways to tap our citizens' ideas and resourcefulness for Singapore to compete and survive for 100 years and beyond.

Ng Ya Ken
ST Forum, 22 Aug 2014

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