Draft Master Plan strikes good balance between economic & social needs: analysts

The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA’s) Draft Master Plan offers a good balance between Singapore’s economic and social needs, analysts said.

But they also pointed out possible areas of concern, such as the potential over-development of certain areas, which could affect their original character.

Holland Village is known for its quaint shophouses, restaurants and bars. And its unique character will be further expanded under the URA’s Draft Master Plan.

A new extension is planned to be built in the next two years, and it has also been designated as an identity node. This means that the area’s charm will be conserved and enhanced.

But some analysts said there is the risk of over-development.

Colin Tan, director and head (research & consultancy) at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, said: “The danger is that as you add on more density, and you build around Holland V, you may interfere with the natural evolution process.

“Sometimes making it more accessible and popular, you draw in other groups that may interfere with the original group that went to Holland V. When you have the accessibility, the MRT, you may bring in other people – tourists — who may change the character of the whole place.”

And with more crowds, challenges such as insufficient parking may surface.

Mr Tan said: “I think, for example, like in Joo Chiat itself — Joo Chiat has come up because there are a lot of conserved shophouses.

“Next thing you know, there’s overcrowding, illegal parking, and URA telling eateries that you can’t have in-house dining, you can only have takeaways because they don’t want to add to the congestion and to the problems of the residents there.”

But experts also said the Master Plan reflects a good balance between Singapore’s economic and social needs.

Liang Eng Hwa, MP and deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for National Development, said: “We need to continue to allow Singapore to grow, and then to balance our other challenges like ageing, the desire to have more green space and so on.

“So this Master Plan actually strikes a very good balance between that. And I think it does take in a lot of inputs and feedback from a lot of areas and quarters.”

Mr Liang also applauded the fact that the Master Plan builds on earlier efforts to make estates more liveable. These include better transport connectivity, more greenery and bringing jobs closer to homes.

The plan also aims to set aside land at the Woodlands Regional Centre specifically for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Analysts welcomed the move, saying that there has been too much focus on multi-national corporations.

Mr Tan said: “The strategy for us has always been an open economy, and we always depend on external trade and services. But we seem to have neglected the domestic sector.”

But observers said more details are needed of the specific support to be provided to SMEs.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 20 Nov 2013

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