Published March 11, 2008

URA sets aside more land for offices

(SINGAPORE) Singapore will provide more land for offices as part of a strategy to strengthen its position as an Asian financial centre, the government's real estate planning agency said yesterday.

'The new growth area set aside for the seamless extension of the existing financial district ... will be more than twice the size of London's Canary Wharf,' the city-state's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said in a statement.

'Over a span of more than 15 years, the development of the 85-hectare site identified for extension of the existing financial district will see the addition of around 2.82 million square metres of office space,' it added.

Demand for office space in Singapore has grown strongly in the past three years, spurred by the growth in financial services, in particular private banking.

According to URA data, office rents soared 56 per cent last year as demand for office space rose by an average of 260,000 square metres per annum over the last three years - a 60 per cent increase from the historical average of 160,000 square metres a year.

Foreign direct investment in Singapore's real estate was S$14.4 billion in 2007, compared to S$6.7 billion in 2006, the agency said.

Singapore is currently developing the Marina Bay Financial Centre on reclaimed land south of the existing central business district. It has also offered sites to the east and west of the business district.

The city-state, with a population of 4.6 million, has expanded its land area by more than 10 per cent since independence in 1965 through reclamation from the sea.

Developers involved in the Marina Bay project include Hong Kong developers Cheung Kong and Hongkong Land, as well as Singapore-based Keppel Land. -- Reuters