URA seeks views of Singaporeans on long-term land use

Review will take into account population trends, climate change, impact of pandemic

The latest review of Singapore’s long-term land use will take into account not just trends such as an ageing population and climate change, but will also consider the impact Covid-19 has had on how people work, live and play.

Right-sizing the Central Business District (CBD) as more embrace the flexibility of working from home could be one key issue, for instance, along with setting aside more land-use buffers for the emergency set-up of quarantine facilities for future pandemics.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch of a year-long public consultation exercise on the review, National Development Minister Desmond Lee highlighted the importance of planning for a country constrained by space, and the need to find creative solutions.

“We are also facing more uncertainties,” he said, pointing to the threat of climate change, economic and technological disruptions, and the current and future pandemics.

“For example, if working and learning from home becomes more of a norm, do we need to relook how we design our estates, neighbourhood centres and maybe even our homes?

“Would we need less office space, or should we provide more co-working spaces in our heartland? Or should we have more mixed-use developments in our city centre, so that people can live right where they work, and we can keep our commercial districts lively and vibrant?”

The rise of e-commerce, which has accelerated because of the pandemic, could also affect the set-up of malls and heartland shops in the future.

“And how should we reconfigure our urban logistics to facilitate that last-mile delivery to your homes? Do we need more local warehouses for sorting of goods, or more pickup points for things that we order?” Mr Lee asked.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) chief planner Hwang Yu-Ning said that the CBD is an area that may be relooked.

She said two general approaches could be taken – sustaining and growing it, or having it spread across multiple sites. And if a decision was made to shrink the size of the CBD, she said, the authorities would have to look at how to use land previously zoned for office space, or how to create more residential opportunities in the business district.

Reviews of Singapore’s land-use needs have taken place since 1971, with each review culminating in a single concept plan to guide the nation’s urban planning for the next 40 to 50 years. From 1991, reviews were conducted every decade. The last concept plan was out in 2011.

The plans have sown the seeds for large-scale developments – the MRT and the Marina Bay area were envisioned in 1971, while combining seven separate islands into one big one for industrial use, leading to the formation of Jurong Island, was suggested in 1991.

The URA said the latest review will yield not just one plan but several options to deal with an “increasingly volatile, uncertain and fast-evolving environment”. This will help future generations adapt and adjust to challenges.

Public consultation will take place in four phases between this month and next June. The first phase, which began yesterday, seeks to canvass the broader hopes and aspirations of Singaporeans through polls and workshops.

Various segments of the population, such as businesses, planning professionals and those in academic circles, will also be involved from the second phase.

“Source: [URA seeks views of Singaporeans on long-term land use] © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction”

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