Pasir Ris Park carpark and nearby green plot to make way for public housing

The two plots are to the left and right of a rail construction site for the East-West Line. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE – A Pasir Ris Park carpark is set to be carved out for public housing as part of a 2.9ha parcel, with another 1.7ha plot next to it slated to be developed for the same purpose.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Aug 19 published an approved amendment to its 2019 masterplan, in which plot ratios were assigned to the two parcels.

A plot ratio determines the maximum gross floor area of developments on a particular land parcel, and the two parcels were given a plot ratio of 2.0. Both sites were previously zoned for housing, subject to detailed planning.

A map of the 70ha Pasir Ris Park on the National Parks Board’s website shows the park’s Carpark B – containing about 20 lots for cars and 10 for motorcycles – is within the 2.9ha parcel, which is the size of about four football fields. The carpark takes up about a third of the parcel, while the rest is currently forested.

The 1.7ha parcel is not within the park. It is also forested apart from areas that have been cleared for construction works for housing and transport infrastructure.

In 2017, the Housing Board identified both land parcels for public housing development under its Remaking Our Heartland plans for the town. The programme aims to renew selected residential towns through strategies such as upgrading parks and inserting more housing.

Nature Society (Singapore) president Shawn Lum told The Straits Times that HDB had consulted nature groups in April 2019 about its plans to develop three land parcels, which included the two parcels as well as one other where the Costa Grove Build-To-Order (BTO) project is currently being constructed.

HDB adjusted the parcels’ boundaries following consultations to reduce the impact of development on green areas, he said.

For instance, the 2.9ha parcel was previously about 3.7ha and ate into a larger forested area. Following the adjustment, the parcel’s size was reduced and Carpark B was added to it, so that less green space would make way for development.

Dr Lum said that while the 2.9ha and 1.7ha parcels contain younger woodlands with plant species that have adapted to disturbed sites, both could potentially become rich in biodiversity if left undeveloped – something that pre-development environmental impact studies do not usually consider.

“Besides damage limitation, which is what such studies aim to do, we should increasingly think of ways to simultaneously maximise biodiversity within the new housing developments,” said Dr Lum, a botanist at Nanyang Technological University.

Noting that the authorities have identified a potential nature corridor – a series of linked wildlife habitats – connecting Paya Lebar Air Base and Pulau Ubin via Pasir Ris Park, Dr Lum said green spaces in the Pasir Ris area are currently quite fragmented.

The land parcel’s size was reduced and Pasir Ris Park’s Carpark B was added to it, so that less green space would make way for development. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

But this can be overcome, he added, if large land owners and managers – such as schools and housing developers – deliberately set aside space for natural habitats within their premises.

“If we can allocate space for nature project by project, these spaces can be linked, and weaving nature through developments can become less daunting,” said Dr Lum.

ERA Realty’s head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said that based on the assigned plot ratio, the 1.7ha parcel could yield between 340 and 380 housing units, while 580 to 640 units can be built on the 2.9ha parcel.

About 1km away from the two parcels, an approximately 18ha forested area in Pasir Ris Drive 3 is also zoned for residential use.

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