Friday, June 29, 2007

THE NEW CBDs ...

Long-term plans for Jurong, Paya Lebar to ease the squeeze on Shenton Way

Daryl Loo
[email protected]


Jurong and Paya Lebar have been designated to become new business hubs, under the upcoming Master Plan review for 2008.

Giving a preview of the plans in a Channel NewsAsia interview, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said these would provide space for Singapore's continued growth as a global business centre, and offer an alternative to the overcrowded CBD area.

The Master Plan guides Singapore's medium-term land use, and is reviewed every five years.

The Government plans to release sites for new offices, shops, homes and entertainment outlets in Jurong and Paya Lebar, to grow them into new hubs for businesses.

According to the minister, the lower costs will be a key pull factor. Said Mr Mah: "I think the best incentive is that it will offer cheaper office space cheaper than the CBD quite obviously. It will offer proximity to some of the nearby residences; as people want to live near their workplace, that would be an attraction.

"Of course, it's going to be a very nice leisure, recreational area as well. In Jurong, for example, we can redevelop the areas around the Jurong Lake, which can provide very nice retail, and F&B outlets on the waterfront."

The specific locations of the sites have yet to be determined, but they will be centred around the existing MRT stations. For Jurong, these would likely be the Lakeside, Boon Lay or Jurong East stations, while the Paya Lebar station is the likely candidate in the east.

Mr Mah added that he did not see the need for the land acquisition by the Government as there was ample empty sites in these areas.

The new hubs are seen as part of the long-term answer to the current office space crunch.

"I remember we took at least 10 years to fully develop Tampines as a Regional Centre. So I think, depending on the reaction of the market, it may take just as long (to build up Jurong and Paya Lebar)."

As for speculation about drastic increases in plot ratios for land around the island to cope with an anticipated rise in population, Mr Mah said there was no need for any such move yet. He explained that the figure of 6.5 million was a very long-term parameter to guide land-use planning, spanning up to 50 years.

As such, he said: "There's really no urgent need for us to drastically change all our plot ratios, or up the intensity of all the various parcels of land that we have. We've been doing this gradually over many years It's not something that we need to do across the board at this point in time, based on the reviews that we have done."

The Master Plan will also include new details of living options, leisure facilities, and ways to encourage rootedness in Singapore. It will be put up for public feedback by mid next year. Channel NewsAsia