Pandemic to shape Singapore's land use plans amid ongoing review: Indranee Rajah


THE government is monitoring trends accelerated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and will factor the insight gathered into Singapore's future land-use plans amid an ongoing review.

To guide future development, the Ministry of National Development and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) have embarked on a review of the country's long-term land-use plans. These long-term plans are reviewed regularly, and the last major review was conducted in 2011.

"With changing needs and emerging trends, it is timely to refresh these plans," Second National Development Minister Indranee Rajah, said on Thursday in Parliament.

She said that the pandemic will change land-use plans and designs, noting it has already raised questions on how much office and retail space is needed, given the shift towards e-commerce and telecommuting.

The "disconcerting quiet" of the central business district during the circuit breaker also emphasised the importance of planning for more mixed use in the city centre.

To this end, the CBD Incentive scheme and Strategic Development Incentive (SDI) scheme will help facilitate this shift, said Ms Rajah.

Under the former, incentives are offered for the conversion of older office buildings in the CBD into mixed-use developments with features such as hotels, residences, gyms and eateries.

Similarly, the SDI incentivises building owners to come together to redevelop and transform precincts in strategic areas across the island.

The URA has received nine outline applications under the CBD Incentive Scheme, of which six were given in-principle approval. Three outline applications under the SDI scheme were also given in-principle approval.

"As our circumstances change, we must plan accordingly," Ms Rajah said. "This includes planning for an ageing population, and the evolving mindsets of Singaporeans on matters such a lifestyles, work, family, nature and heritage."

The government will also look at ways to add community co-working spaces to Singapore's neighbourhoods, as well as how to make these accessible for vulnerable groups.

Ms Rajah added: "We will also engage private operators, and examine how we can plan and design our neighbourhoods to support remote working, should the trend persist."

She also highlighted that taking a long-term approach towards land-use planning is important for sustainable development. This will also preserve options for future generations.

As part of the long-term planning review, the public, private and people sectors will be consulted to gather feedback. Such engagement will begin from April, starting with polls.