Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Govt agencies to move to alternative city centres

IT IS full steam ahead for Singapore’s new growth areas such as Jurong and Paya Lebar as the Government ramps up plans to develop the Republic’s alternative city centres.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday said several government agencies, including the Ministry of National Development (MND) and some of its statutory boards, will relocate to Jurong Gateway by 2015.

The development of new growth areas such as Jurong Gateway, Paya Lebar Central and Kallang Riverside was first announced in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) draft Masterplan 2008.

‘Despite the downturn, we pressed on with infrastructure works and more sites at these areas will be progressively released for development from this year onwards,’ said Mr Mah in Parliament.

‘Together with Grade A office space in the CBD, they will offer commercial firms more choices in business locations,’ he said.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, the Building and Construction Authority – along with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and its statutory boards – are planning to move to Jurong by 2015, said Mr Mah.

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency will move to Paya Lebar Central, while its new Continuing Education and Training Campus, due for completion by 2013, will also be located there.

Mr Mah said the relocations will free up prime office space in the city to meet private sector demand: ‘By 2015, the current supply of about one million sq m of office space in the pipeline should have been taken up. The relocation… will help to free up more space for the private sector.’

Responding to questions raised by MPs such as Mr Teo Ser Luck (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) on land constraints on growth, Mr Mah said MND and URA have embarked on the Concept Plan 2011 which will chart Singapore’s land use strategies over the next 40 to 50 years.

‘Under the review, we will develop strategies to increase land productivity to support future growth,’ he said.

Mr Mah also noted that as a key city in growing Asia, Singapore will naturally see foreign interest in private residential properties here. But he said Singapore residents still account for nearly 90 per cent of all private housing transactions last year.

He was responding to Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who asked about foreign buyers and steps to pre-empt a collective sale fever.

Mr Mah said the Ministry of Law has been reviewing existing en-bloc sale regulations, and has been taking feedback and suggestions from members of the public. Any changes to collective sale rules will be announced by the ministry in due course.

Source: Straits Times, 9 Mar 2010

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