Action against unlicensed shophouses not aimed at hurting Tiong Bahru’s vibrancy: URA

The recent move to shut unauthorised shops in Tiong Bahru estate was not aimed at diminishing the area’s vibrancy and valid businesses will continue to operate, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Friday (May 15).

Responding to questions from Channel NewsAsia, URA said it took enforcement action on 12 shops in the estate because the businesses were operating from residential premises without approval, and were therefore illegal.

“It was not intended to diminish the vibrancy of the Tiong Bahru area. Valid businesses with proper authorisation are welcomed to continue their operations,” the URA said.

There are currently around 80 retail and food and beverage outlets in the part of Tiong Bahru that comprises conserved low-rise housing blocks built in the 1940s and 1950s. The area is popular with expatriates and tourists, as well as locals who are fond of the food stalls at Tiong Bahru Market and the surrounding area.

Even without the 12, there are around 70 retail and F&B outlets in the area, including the popular Tiong Bahru Bakery, Cantonese restaurant Por Kee Eating House and coffee joint 40 Hands.

“Some of the unauthorised uses have ceased, and we have given others grace periods to make arrangements to move their businesses elsewhere,” URA said.

The agency also urged business operators to do the necessary due diligence and check if premises can be used for commercial purposes prior to signing a lease.

“Many residents in the Tiong Bahru estate do not welcome these unapproved businesses and we need to safeguard their interests. Without enforcement, it means anyone can set up a shop next to people’s homes, whether it is allowed or not,” URA added.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 May 2015

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