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Circle Line key to higher plot ratios: JLL

Study looks at how Master Plan 2008 could change landscape, usher in new initiatives

(SINGAPORE) When Master Plan 2008 is unveiled sometime this year, certain areas are likely to see an increase in plot ratios. A study by Jones Lang LaSalle has tried to zero in on which areas could be allowed more intensive use of land.

Its conclusion: Look out for undeveloped state sites within walking distance of Circle Line MRT stations, particularly those that intersect with existing MRT lines. They are the top candidates for higher plot ratios.

The property consulting group specifically highlighted the areas near Paya Lebar MRT Station, Buona Vista MRT Station (which will see the Circle Line intersecting with the existing East-West Line) and HarbourFront MRT Station (Circle Line crosses North-East Line). Also, while Buona Vista is shaping into an R&D/commercial hub, the HarbourFront district’s redevelopment potential is increasing because of projects in Sentosa and Keppel Bay nearby.

Another promising area is in the vicinity of the Circle Line Station at Telok Blangah. Although it does not intersect with an existing MRT line, it will benefit from a spillover  from the ongoing redevelopment in Sentosa and HarbourFront.

JLL does not see major, across-the-board increases in plot ratios in MP 2008. But it argues that intensifying land use for undeveloped state plots along these stations will spread social benefits from the government’s investment in the Circle Line to more people and also improve accessibility.

Raising plot ratios (ratio of maximum potential gross floor area to land area) will also address the issue of rising demand for Singapore’s properties and prevent overcrowding in specific areas such as the central and CBD regions.

Although the Circle Line also touches locations near Dhoby Ghaut and Bishan MRT stations, JLL excludes them as these areas already have high plot ratios.

The study also suggests that white sites – with a range of uses and change in use mix allowed – will be more readily available islandwide instead of being confined largely to the CBD. ‘It further promotes creativity in future projects,’ says JLL’s head of research (South-east Asia) Chua Yang Liang.

He also sees the Urban Redevelopment Authority introducing more mixed use, rather than traditional single-use zones, to ‘further provide the flexibility needed to accommodate changing demand patterns as a result of shifting demographics’. MP 2008 could also be more tolerant of non-traditional types of residences. For instance, obsolete industrial buildings could be re-modelled along the lines of New York’s Manhattan lofts. ‘This will accommodate shifting market forces and tastes,’ Dr Chua argues.

JLL also suggests that URA may realign traditional industrial estates to support demand needs of the knowledgebased economy or rezone them for other uses. ‘For example, industrial areas within housing estates such as those found in Jalan Pemimpin could potentially be rezoned to residential or possibly an education hub,’ it said. After all, the area is near Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College.

MP 2008 could also extend the ‘work, live and play’ concept beyond Marina Bay into the suburbs as Singapore cannot live by its business image alone, JLL predicts. ‘We can expect to see more areas designed for cultural developments, for example, the civic, cultural and retail complex in Buona Vista, and new conservation areas that serve to retain the fabric of the collective memory,’ Dr Chua said.

JLL also expects to see many more recreational zones across Singapore. ‘The likes of the recent Punggol announcement will be more common,’ the study said.

On the back of Sentosa Cove’s success, JLL expects other islets around Singapore like Southern Islands and Pulau Ubin to be put for waterfront residential use.

In the existing CBD, JLL suggests that Shenton Way will see a further shift towards a mixed-use (including residential) district, once the current office supply crunch eases. In May last year, URA announced a temporary ban on conversion of office use in the central area, including the CBD, to other uses until end-2009.

Last year, the government identified Jurong East and Paya Lebar for development into business hubs. Dr Chua says land around Paya Lebar MRT Station will be intensified in line with government plans to transform it into a subregional centre and that the location will be ideal for cost-conscious office tenants.

However, Dr Chua suggests that the area around Jurong East MRT Station is more suited for research and development because of its proximity to universities, the Science Park and one-north rather than as an alternative backoffice hub along the lines of Tampines.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan last year also ruled out massive, across-the-board islandwide increases in plot ratios for MP 2008 to cope with a higher population target of 6.5 million. The Master Plan, a detailed land use plan that guides Singapore’s medium-term physical development, is reviewed every five years.

 

Source: Business Times 4 Jan 08

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