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Several MRT station ‘hot spots’ likely in the future

Interest in these areas rises as Govt readies review of land use masterplan

A MAJOR review of the town plan governing the development of land across Singapore is due this year – and keen interest centres on the use of land near MRT stations.

Property analysts have identified several MRT station ‘hot spots’, but they are playing down the possibility that the Government may allow more intensive development in these areas for now.

The five-yearly review of Singapore’s Master Plan, due around the middle of this year, will examine plot ratios – the level of intensity of development on a given site.

MRT stations hold interest for planners and industry watchers for the obvious reason that vast numbers of people use them every day. A new Jones Lang LaSalle report on higher plot ratios near Circle Line stations picked Paya Lebar, Buona Vista, Telok Blangah and Harbourfront as new hot spots.

The Master Plan shows the permissible land use and density for every parcel of land in Singapore. Property analysts say over time, plot ratios will have to increase in selected areas to cater to a growing population.

What is uncertain is the timing.

For the purpose of planning land use and transportation in the next 40 to 50 years, the Government is using a projected population of 6.5 million, as opposed to the current population of 4.5 million.

Maximising the use of land around MRT stations is an obvious choice.

‘You can then minimise car usage, and the masses get the best accessibility,’ said Dr Chua Yang Liang, the head of research for South-east Asia at Jones Lang LaSalle. ‘From the planning perspective, it is about maximising your investment dollars and social benefits.’

‘Yes, the plot ratios may rise, but people should not count too much on that,’ said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak. ‘I don’t think the Government will be creating a lot of windfalls for private property owners, as there is no compelling reason to do so.’

Besides, some of the areas along the Circle line are fairly built-up, he said.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said in June there was no need for an across-the-board change in plot ratios, as the land available today would be sufficient to meet needs over the next 10 to 15 years.

That, however, has not deterred some property owners from dreaming of a windfall.

Some recalled that certain sites above or near key MRT stations had their plot ratios raised after plans for the North East Line (NEL) were finalised more than 10 years ago. A prime example was the land around the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, when it was also made the NEL interchange.

There is no need for significant increases in plot ratios along the Circle Line in the upcoming Master Plan because the line will not be ready until 2012, said Mr Ku Swee Yong, the director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore.

Generally, the areas likely to see a significant revision in development density will be vacant state land around the Circle Line stations. Paya Lebar certainly has some. It is slated to be a regional commercial centre, so it is possible that the Government will allow a higher land density around the station, said Mr Ku.

It may happen at the Buona Vista stations, he said, as the area is a biotech hub.

Places such as Bishan and Dhoby Ghaut have been ruled out because there is little empty state land there.

Also, plot ratios in Dhoby Ghaut are already very high, said Dr Chua.

‘So you can’t raise them further. Otherwise, you will upset the urban streetscape.’

 

Source: The Straits Times 7 Jan 08

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