HDB, URA to ensure Fernvale Link temple integrates well with surroundings

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing and Development Board (HDB) will ensure that a proposed temple at Fernvale Link in Sengkang will “integrate well with the surrounding developments, the same way other existing places of worship have been integrated in many residential estates”, both agencies said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 6).

This follows an outcry by residents over plans for a columbarium at an upcoming Chinese temple at a plot of land surrounded by two Build-to-Order projects and an executive condominium development. Many say they were not aware of plans for the columbarium. Four hundred residents met with Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min, officials from URA and HDB, and the temple developer on Sunday to discuss the issue.

In a joint statement, URA and HDB said the land had been zoned as a “place of worship” in URA’s Master Plan since 2003. The agencies said Eternal Pure Land, which won the tender for the site, has affirmed to HDB its commitment to run a Chinese temple to serve the community.

URA and HDB said “most places of worship have some columbarium facilities and they are found islandwide”. It cited examples such as Fo Guang Shan Chinese Temple along Punggol Walk, Seu Teck Sean Tong Temple at Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, and the Church of the St. Mary of the Angels at Bukit Batok East Avenue 6.

“URA works closely with HDB and other agencies to ensure that towns are planned comprehensively to be self-sufficient, with a wide range of facilities and amenities to serve the needs of residents. Places of worship can be successfully integrated into the design of residential estates to serve the needs of our people,” HDB and URA stated.

The agencies also reiterated URA’s guidelines that only 20 per cent of the total gross floor area for places of worship can be set aside for columbarium use. It must also be inside the main building and away from public view. This policy has been in place since 1999, they said.


Property watchers said with home prices still higher today than they were before, more home buyers are doing their ground work before committing on a property. These include assessing whether facilities or amenities in the area may affect the future resale value of their homes.

But some home buyers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said their research is usually focused on the shorter term.

A couple said: “We didn’t really ask the property agent what the amenities are for the next 20 years, but we looked at the existing infrastructure – whether it’s near the MRT, near the schools. Because we have one daughter. So as she grows up, we have to look for schools, so that’s the most important thing.”

Analysts said while the URA Masterplan is the most reliable source of information on future land use, not many know how to access or use the information.

Mr Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer at ERA Realty, said: “While the Masterplan is made publicly available on the URA website, I think for members of the public, not many of them know how to use it.

“Even though you can check the Masterplan, the Masterplan only tells you about zoning and the density. You won’t know what actually is going to be built until the tender specifications are put up by the URA or HDB . So there is still a certain element of risk involved because the exact look and feel of the end product you will not know,” he said.

Property agents are another source of information – but their core duties still lie with informing clients about the projects they are selling.

Mr Thomas Tan, Executive Director at Re/Max said: “Where the agent is concerned, their duty will probably be surrounding information about the project itself. This forms part of the core duties of the agent. Anything offered outside of it will probably be goodwill – that means it’s not part of the duty of the agent to necessarily reveal it.”

“Some areas – the surrounding plots of land tend to have worship zoning, or sometimes educational institutions. So these will impact parking and traffic around the area. These are things that, probably during the launch itself, the agents will probably highlight to the consumers before they actually make a purchase, because this could be an issue or a sticking point where the consumers may feel that the agents did not tell them critical information, before they make a decision. I think the agents are very wary of this and they will probably offer more than what you want,” he added.

Moving ahead, experts said authorities could convey information more clearly, and to help home hunters make more informed decisions.

Mr Lim said: “Perhaps we can improve on transparency. Though it is a known fact that if it is a designated religious use – for example, a religious building is coming up – there is always a possibility that it will include a columbarium. So, instead of just putting ‘religious use’ on the Masterplan zoning, why not put religious use and/or columbarium. That would allow the public to make a more informed decision of what will actually affect them in the area.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 6 Jan 2015

Join The Discussion

Compare listings