Pearl Bank Apartments: What sort of consent was needed

Thu, Mar 15, 2018

IN his letter "Conservation vs en bloc sale: Money talks louder?" (BT, Feb 23, 2018), Ho Swee Huat asked why 100 per cent of owners' consent is needed for voluntary conservation of strata-titled developments like Pearl Bank Apartments, compared to a lower threshold of 80 per cent consent for en bloc sales. He suggested that URA might be motivated by monetary incentives from a lease top-up by the new owner.

Mr Ho is mistaken. Under the Voluntary Conservation Scheme, the Urban Redevelopment Authority does not stipulate a threshold of support from the owner(s) in the conservation of a building. Instead, URA considers each proposal based on its conservation merits, taking into account the longer-term development plans for the area.

In the case of Pearl Bank Apartments, the Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) Council put up a proposal in 2014 not just to conserve the Pearl Bank Tower Block, but also to construct a new block within the development. This new block would have added new subsidiary proprietors (SPs) to the development and changed the aggregate share value of all the lots. This would have resulted in a significant dilution of the rights of existing owners.

Under the Building Maintenance & Strata Management Act, the aggregate share value of all the lots in a MCST cannot be altered after an MCST is constituted. Instead, the MCST has to terminate the strata scheme and allow for the reconstitution of a new MCST with an equitable share allocation for all SPs. It is this termination of a strata scheme that requires a resolution by consensus (ie 100 per cent consent from the SPs).

Ms Chou Mei
Group Director, Conservation
and Urban Design
Urban Redevelopment Authority