Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rooftop landscaping gets $8m boost

NParks launches 3-year co-funding scheme; URA starts landscaping for urban spaces plan

(SINGAPORE) Hot on the heels of a sustainable development blueprint released on Monday, the National Parks Board (NParks) yesterday announced a three-year $8 million scheme to co-fund rooftop landscaping in the city.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) also launched its landscaping for urban spaces and high-rises (Lush) programme to help meet the blueprint's goal of creating another 50 hectares of 'sky-rise' greenery by 2030.

'Despite Singapore being land scarce, greenery can be pervasive in our urban spaces,' said URA chief executive Cheong Koon Hean. From September this year, NParks will give cash incentives to owners who install green roofs on existing buildings in the downtown and Orchard planning areas. The scheme will first target low- to mid-rise developments that are highly visible, and those surrounded by little street-level greenery.

NParks hopes to create nine hectares of green roofs over the next three years. The incentives will cover up to half of installation costs, capped at $75 per sq m. According to the agency, the typical cost of installing a green roof ranges from $150-$180 per sq m.

Gardens on the roof cost more than those on the ground for every square metre, said Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects' president Henry Steed. 'But once you have built it, the asset is there and the land usable, whereas a plain roof is not.'

In conjunction with NParks' scheme, URA will offer owners who install green roofs bonus gross floor area (GFA) above the master plan permissible intensity. The additional space - limited to half of the roof area or 200 sq m, whichever is lower - can be used for outdoor refreshment areas.

Developers will have to pay a development charge (DC) or differential premium, but URA believes the bonus GFA offer is sufficiently attractive.

The current DC calculation formula creams off 70 per cent of the enhancement in land value, but 'there's still a 30 per cent gain for developers,' said URA's urban design deputy director Cheng Hsing Yao.

The GFA incentive scheme is part of URA's Lush programme, which includes other existing and revised measures to enhance the urban landscape.

For instance, developers applying to exclude sky terraces from GFA computations now have to submit detailed plans on landscaping and communal facilities at the terraces.

Developers housing car parks within raised decks must also put up earth berms for plants on at least 60 per cent of each side of the deck wall, and should surround the area with see-through fences rather than solid walls.

In the strategic areas of the Downtown Core, including Marina Bay, Kallang Riverside and Jurong Gateway, new developments also have to put in place 'sky-rise' greenery or ground-level landscaping equivalent to the site area in size.

For very small plots where buildings have to be tall to maximise the plot ratio, 'replacement is typically not too difficult,' said Singapore Institute of Architects immediate past-president Tai Lee Siang.

Both Mr Steed and Mr Tai believe more can be done to promote urban greenery.

Mr Steed, for instance, envisions it will ultimately be possible for all roofs to have green features ranging from gardens, water catchment areas and even mini-farms.

Source: Business Times, 30 April 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment