Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MND considers total ecosystem in planning

IN ITS urban planning blueprints, the Ministry for National Development (MND) won’t miss the forest for the trees. Instead, it takes a well-rounded approach when drawing up its development concept plans, taking into account existing infrastructure and consulting MPs and other agencies.

This was National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan’s assurance to the House yesterday. ‘When we do make changes, they will be taken as a whole. It’s not just development for its own sake,’ he said.

‘On an overall basis, the whole planning process takes into account the whole gamut of requirements, ranging from housing, to roads, to schools, to nature areas, even right down to things like markets, places of worship and so on.’

Earlier, Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Marine Parade GRC) had asked about the Government’s planning methods. Were new projects drawn up in isolation, or was the total ‘ecosystem’ of the area taken into account?

He was particularly concerned about the growing density of the Amber and Katong areas. After the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) approved the construction of new residences in the area, a clutch of condominiums had sprung up. With more such estates on the way, traffic congestion, overcrowding and rising social pressure are becoming a definite possibility, Mr Lim said.

Mr Mah said the URA’s integrated approach to planning would mitigate such problems. In fact, the development of the Amber and Katong districts was precisely an example of such consultation bearing fruit.

‘The master plan takes into account what the increased density in the area means for traffic congestion and discussions were held with the relevant agencies, such as the Land Transport Authority.’

This helped the URA pre-empt overcrowding, he explained. The MRT network will be extended into the area and the Marina Coastal Expressway will take pressure off the existing East Coast Parkway.

‘I think this is one of the strengths of the Singapore planning system: That when we plan, we plan it on a holistic level, taking everything into consideration,’ he said.

Source: Straits Times, 9 Mar 2010

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