A ‘more interesting, vibrant’ S’pore

Instead of squeezing with other drivers to get to Raffles Place every morning, imagine taking a water taxi down the Singapore River to get to work.

Or, for those who aspire to live in the city, what if you had a wider range of options including rental apartments for young adults and a re-use of existing buildings.

For those who live in HDB flats, there could be more mid-rise communal spaces within the blocks for greater interaction among neighbours.

These were some recommendations by the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) focus group on “Quality of life and ageing” at its public forum yesterday, as part of the Concept Plan 2011 consultation. The plan maps the directions for Singapore’s land use and transportation plans over the next 40 to 50 years.

To ensure Singapore’s distinctiveness, the focus group – co-chaired by National Arts Council chairman Edmund Cheng and National University of Singapore president Tan Chorh Chuan – suggested creating more iconic spaces such as Marina Bay and making the city centre “buzzy”.For example, this could be done by closing streets in the business district on weekends and public holidays for community events.

Professor Tan told reporters that making Singapore “more interesting, more vibrant” than other cities includes increasing the live-in population “so that the city is alive at all times of the year at different times of the day, and not sort of busy during work hours and quite deserted in the evenings”.

Like URA’s other focus group on sustainability and identity, which released its draft recommendations on Friday, the importance of enhancing the public transport experience and encouraging cycling was also cited.

Yesterday’s group also called for the Government to retain some empty plots of land for future development and give the community greater say on how to use such spaces in the interim.

A “lighter touch” in distinctive districts such as Bras Basah, Bugis and Little India, so they can evolve organically, is the way to go, said the group. Urban planners could even involve non-government organisations in “place management and programming”.

When it comes to designing public housing, facilities, recreational and commercial spaces, the group proposed that community and intergenerational-bonding be adopted as key principles.

More space on the second storey of HDB blocks could also be designated for voluntary welfare organisations and social enterprises.

The group also suggested facilitating ageing-in-place, as most seniors would prefer to stay in familiar surroundings. This includes, for instance, having flats with walls that can be easily knocked down so two or three units can be joined.

After gathering views from the public, the final report will be submitted to URA. The public can give their feedback at spring.ura.gov.sg/conceptplan2011/publicforum.

Source : Today – 11 May 2010

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