Urban planning initiatives to meet future needs

The proposals in the Draft Master Plan 2019 unveiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on 27 March 2019 are forward-looking, exciting and comprehensive, with varied initiatives that could further spark physical rejuvenation, enhance sustainability, support economic transformation and foster closer community ties. 

This latest blueprint demonstrates the urban planner’s intent to continue to position Singapore as a one of the most liveable cities in the world, taking into account the needs and aspirations for the future. To this end, we would like to highlight three initiatives from the Draft Master Plan 2019 that stood out:

Rejuvenation of the CBD
To encourage the redevelopment of older buildings in strategic areas into new, bold and innovative developments, the Master Plan 2019 introduces a few initiatives. 
• Increase in base plot ratios: 
a. we note there is an approximate 19% increase in the base gross plot ratio (GPR) in Raffles Place around Battery Road, Collyer Quay and Market Street, from 12.6 times in the Master Plan 2014 to 15.0 times in the Draft Master Plan 2019. Sites include The Arcade, HSBC Building etc. 
b. There is an uplift of 25% in GPR in some sites in the Shenton Way area such as AXA Tower and International Plaza, from 8.4 times to 10.5 times.  
c. In Orchard Road, there are also increases in the GPR for selected sites, though generally lower at around 12% to 14% compared to the Master Plan 2014.

The uplift in actual GPR, based on the Master Plan 2019, however, could be marginal or substantial, depending on the sites, compared to the previous master plan where there was a bonus plot ratio which allowed up to 5-25% increase on the base plot ratio for sites in close proximity to designated MRT Stations (Orchard, Somerset, Dhoby Ghaut, Raffles Place & Tanjong Pagar), as well as those which met a minimum plot size requirement. This bonus plot ratio scheme will be rescinded. In place, there will be two new rejuvenation schemes:  1) Strategic Development Incentive (SDI) Scheme; and 2) CBD Incentive Scheme. 

Some sites, such as AXA Tower and International Plaza, which have already received a 25% increase in base plot ratio, could still receive a 25% increase in GPR should they fulfil the CBD Incentive Scheme such as over 20 years old and over 2,000 sqm site area, redevelopment into Residential with Commercial at 1st storey, Commercial & Residential, or Hotel. 

For some commercial or predominantly commercial mixed sites, along Anson Road and Cecil Street, while they do not receive any uplift in base GPR, they qualify for the 25-30% increase in GPR if they are also redeveloped to the above uses. 

For those buildings not within the designated three areas in the CBD Incentive Scheme, they can still propose amalgamations and seek approval for increase in plot ratios and building height, via the Strategic Development Incentive Scheme.   

To conclude, we believe these initiatives should provide some impetus for the older and smaller buildings to rethink about redevelopment. We are most excited about the commitment to reinforce the “work, live, play” theme in the city. With more incentives to encourage residential uses in the CBD, it should be positive news to the CBD retail/F&B spaces which could see more buzz over the weekends. 

Greater Southern Waterfront and the Southern Islands
The plans for the Greater Southern Waterfront will unfold over the next 20 years and beyond, as the container ports move out. The Keppel Club (vacated) site will be firstly transformed into a residential enclave. Over time, we envisage the entire waterfront from Pasir Panjang to Marina East to be stitched together to offer a compelling lifestyle proposition for residents. In addition, Sentosa and Brani would also offer new attractions for tourists and Singaporeans.  

Perhaps eventually the island of Sentosa and Brani can be also linked to the mainland via a second road to the Marina South area, which would truly enhance the connectivity and identity of the waterfront community. 

Changi Region
The transformation of Changi Airport is set to take another leap forward with the upcoming opening of Jewel, a premier mixed-development with attractions including gardens, retail and F&B offerings, as well as a hotel. Over the longer-term, with further ambitious plans to develop Terminal 5 and the Changi East Urban District, we think the Changi region is poised to become a major commercial, employment and leisure destination in Singapore.

In particular, the opening of Jewel and the development of a new integrated urban hub at the future Terminal 5 will create more non-aeronautical uses at Changi, turning Changi from an aviation hub to an ‘Airport City’ destination that will appeal to both travellers and locals alike. 

The development of Changi will raise its profile internationally and we expect it to play an even more important role in the growth of Singapore’s economy, tourism and urban landscape.