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Telok Blangah, HarbourFront set to get more waterfront homes

But areas closest to Mt Faber unlikely to achieve much higher plot ratios: JLL

(SINGAPORE) More waterfront homes, some tucked into the lower part of Mount Faber, could spring up in the Telok Blangah and HarbourFront precincts under Master Plan 2008, according to a recent study by Jones Lang LaSalle.

The impetus for more intensive use of residential land in these locations – which include a few sites currently occupied by Housing and Development Board flats – is the improved accessibility these precincts will enjoy because of the new Circle Line.

Another factor is a spillover of the hype from nearby developments like VivoCity, the nightspot at the restored St James Power Station, Reflections at Keppel Bay condo and Resorts World at Sentosa.

However, the areas closest to Mount Faber are unlikely to see much intensification in land use as they are part of a proposal to connect the ridges from Mount Faber to West Coast Park under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s 2002 Identity Plan study, JLL reckons.

‘The recent market interest and demand for waterfront housing is likely to give planners the confidence to embark on more bold plans to capitalise on these features – hills overlooking the waters – around these two precincts but careful not to impinge on the natural landscape,’ says JLL’s head of research (South-east Asia) Chua Yang Liang.

‘Hence we can expect higher plot ratios but with urban control, that is, height limit. The likes of Mediterraneanstyle waterfront housing tucked into the hills is not difficult to imagine.’

Generally, JLL expects sites closer to the sea or near Mount Faber to be accorded low plot ratios – of 1.4 and 1.6 respectively – with accompanying height limits of five storeys and 12 storeys respectively. This is to ensure that residential developments further inland will be able to enjoy the water views, and that similarly, the view of Mount Faber from Sentosa will not be obstructed.

Most of these seafronting and foothills sites identified in JLL’s study are owned by the state and are either vacant or being used for car parks, a bus terminus and a food centre. They are all zoned for residential use under the existing Master Plan 2003 but without any plot ratios specified as they are subject to detailed planning.

However, JLL also highlighted four sites further away from Mount Faber and the waterways which it said stood a chance of being accorded higher plot ratios, ranging from 2.8 to 3.5, because of their proximity to the new Telok Blangah Station on the Circle Line. Two of these sites are now occupied by HDB flats while the other two are vacant state sites which could be suitable for sale to developers for residential projects, JLL suggests.

However, another plot flanked by Morse and Wishart roads and comprising vacant state land and private shophouses – currently zoned for residential use, without any plot ratio specified – is likely to be accorded a plot ratio of only 1.4 and a five-storey height limit, JLL reckons. This is to ensure that any new developments there will not block the views of colonial black-and-white houses and other buildings along and on the apex of Mount Faber, JLL argues.

The government last year ruled out major across-the-board plot ratio increases in the upcoming Master Plan 2008 – a pronouncement that some property market watchers say may have been aimed at avoiding fanning the en bloc fever at the time. But JLL has argued for selective plot ratio increases under MP 2008, mostly for vacant state land near Circle Line stations, especially at intersections with other MRT lines.

It even suggests that a site close to the new Telok Blangah MRT Station currently occupied by two private condos – Fairways and Harbour View Towers – could see its plot ratio raised from the present 2.1 to 2.8, because the site is close to the new station.

‘However, bearing in mind that these two developments are on private land, the plot ratio is not likely to be increased to as high as the 3.5 designated for some surrounding¬†residential sites (occupied by HDB flats) to ensure that windfall gains from intensifying land use are socially equitable and not excessively accorded to a few private individuals/landowners,’ JLL added.

‘Historically, the districts along Singapore’s western coastline were dotted with exclusive homes – sitting on a hill and overlooking the sea – until port activities were extended to Pasir Panjang,’ Dr Chua notes. ‘Nevertheless, the intrinsic attractions of this location remain; and the transformation of the area has already begun with the new developments in the HarbourFront location and Sentosa. It may take more time before gentrification spreads to the Pasir Panjang area, but Telok Blangah and HarbourFront are definitely two precincts that are ripe for this transformation.’


Source: Business Times 15 Jan 08

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