More land-use flexibility at district level starting with Punggol North

THE government is introducing greater flexibility in land use at the district level starting with Punggol North, which is designated as Singapore’s first “Enterprise District” where new planning concepts will be tested out.

JTC, the appointed master developer for Punggol North, will have flexibility to develop the district based on land use and gross plot ratio guidelines at the district level.

Plans are also afoot to introduce the master developer approach in other new residential and mixed-use districts elsewhere. The government will introduce this in Kampong Bugis, a 17-hectare new residential precinct bounded by Kallang Road, Kallang River and Crawford Street.

In the case of Kampong Bugis, the entire site will be tendered to a private developer to come up with an overall plan and develop the project by phases in line with market demand. The master developer will also be responsible for certain planning outcomes.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who made these announcements in Parliament on Tuesday, said that these are but a few of the government’s urban transformation plans. “Many more are being worked on. These are major moves that will take decades to complete,” he said.

The announced plans came amid growing industry calls for greater flexibility in land use to support an evolving economic and manufacturing landscape. They were largely in line with the expectations of many industry players who believed the government will try out new ideas in pilot projects where it can implement district-wide systems such as district cooling and other energy-saving initiatives, and connectivity networks.

Mr Wong said that Punggol North has been identified as a pilot Enterprise District focusing on the cybersecurity and digital media industries. It will comprise residential land uses, the new Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) campus as well as commercial and business park users.

The master developer of an Enterprise District will have more flexibility to curate the tenant mix to meet the demand of the future economy. Instead of the current zoning approach which stipulates land use and density for individual sites, the Enterprise District prescribes a district-level gross floor area (GFA) quantum for each land use.

Each land parcel will be allocated its own combination of different uses by a master developer, as long as the total GFA for each use does not exceed the quantum at the district level. With this, companies will have access to shared facilities and collaborative spaces.

“Instead of having planning controls imposed on individual land parcels, JTC will be able to optimise land use across the entire development and find ways to integrate the needs of different users,” Mr Wong said.

For instance, by locating SIT’s campus and JTC’s business parks side by side, there can be closer integration of facilities. SIT’s research labs, incubator spaces and learning facilities could be located inside JTC business park buildings and shared with the industry.

“At the same time, SIT can host industry research and development facilities and startup spaces within their buildings. This will help to create synergies between academia and businesses, facilitate test-bedding and prototyping of new innovations,” Mr Wong said.

Last week, the government had announced a pilot project within Woodlands North Coast where flexible industrial land use will be applied to a multi-tenanted building to be developed by JTC.

For the Kampong Bugis precinct, it will also deviate from the traditional approach of carving out the individual plots for sale.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will stipulate broad planning parameters for the land use and intensity for the entire precinct, instead of individual land parcels, giving the master-developer flexibility to plan and develop the entire precinct.

But to ensure quality outcomes, a rigorous evaluation process would be put in place to assess the master plan and concept proposal submitted by the developer, URA said. The supply of residential units will also be phased out in tandem with market demand and supply.

URA said it has started industry consultations to draw up the development parameters and tender requirements for the site. More details will be shared at a later stage.

The master developer will be responsible for three key outcomes 1) a people-centric car-lite vision; 2) a comprehensive network of pedestrian walkways and cycling paths with green and community spaces; and 3) district-level systems to manage waste and storm water.

Mr Wong said the development of Kampong Bugis forms part of the government’s larger rejuvenation efforts for the Kallang River, among which will include rolling out more homes and rejuvenating older industrial estates in the area.

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