New guidelines on the limited and non-exclusive use of commercial spaces for religious activities were issued on Tuesday.
The guidelines were jointly issued by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS).
Under the guidelines, sites zoned for “Commercial” use in URA’s Master Plan are intended for commercial activities should serve as secular spaces for all.
Religious activities should be conducted at sites zoned “Place of Worship”.
While religious activities are generally not allowed in commercial buildings, URA said it is prepared to exercise some flexibility.
Commercial premises can be used by religious groups if the usage is limited and non-exclusive as long as it does not cause disturbances such as noise, traffic or parking problems.
Examples of spaces in commercial and hotel developments include auditoriums, function halls, convention centres and cinemas.
Also, only existing approved auditoriums, function halls, convention halls and cinemas located within commercial and hotel developments can be considered for non-exclusive and limited religious use.
Further, there will be a size limit.
The maximum space within a commercial development that can be considered for religious use should not exceed a total Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 20,000 square metres or 20 per cent of total GFA of the development, whichever is lower.
Each religious organisation is limited to use up to 10,000 square metres in any commercial space at any one time.
The authorities said this is to ensure that a single religious organisation does not dominate a particular commercial development by taking up a very large amount of space.
In addition, the premises cannot be owned by or exclusively leased to religious organisations.
The use of the commercial space for religious activities should also not exceed two days a week including Saturday and Sunday.
There shall be no display of signage, advertisements or posters of the religious use at the premises or on the exterior of the building.
The building owner and the religious organisation must also take appropriate measures to ensure that the activities do not cause disturbances to the public.
Source: Channel News Asia, 20 Jul 2010