Developers urged to rightsize shoebox units

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is encouraging developers of shoebox units to increase the size of their units, up from 28 sq m to 35 sq m, according to a report in The Business Times.

Many analysts said that promoting bigger shoebox units may likely help to cool the property market since the micro apartments have been blamed for fuelling increases in psf prices at property launches.

A spokeswoman from the URA said that it does not specify a minimum size for units, to give developers flexibility to develop units of various sizes in order to cater to the needs of buyers. Rather, it adopts a consultative approach to enhance the quality of new property projects in the country.

“When we receive development proposals comprising many small residential units, our immediate concern would be the quality and liveability of the space for home owners as well as the potential impact on the living environment of the neighbourhood and the local traffic situation,” said the spokeswoman.

“In such cases, URA’s planners will work with the developers and architects to finetune the design of the development, unit size and unit layout.”

She added that “the revised (minimum) unit sizes are typically in the range of 35-50 sq m gross floor area, excluding features such as bay windows, balconies and air-con ledges.”

Some market watchers said URA’s advice was given to developers and to their architects after their applications had been turned down.

It was reported in 2009 that the URA turned down several applications involving apartments below 28 sq m. Last week, the URA told The Business Times that in processing development proposals, it assesses the overall project design, unit layout and building configuration, as well as the localised traffic situation to guarantee that proposed shoebox unit projects can sustain a quality living environment for buyers.

“In general, residential units should be self-contained with basic amenities such as a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.”

Estimates from one developer showed that a unit with a gross floor area of 35 sq m, excluding balcony and air-con ledge, may have a saleable area of 40.5 sq m or approximately 436 sq ft. The developer noted that the URA is more likely to be strict in ensuring that unit sizes are not too small for projects with a large proportion of one-bedroom and one-bedder-plus study units.

“But if the one bedders make up a relatively small proportion of units in a large development, which also has bigger units like two, three and four-bedroom apartments, URA’s planners may allow a few units even if they’re under 35 sq m. A lot will also depend on the layout of these units,” the developer said.

Source : PropertyGuru – 16 May 2011

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