New guidelines on allowable spaces for religious activities

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) have jointly issued new guidelines on land development and use of space for religious activities. These guidelines will take immediate effect.

The latest guidelines allow religious groups to make use of industrial premises zoned Business 1 for their activities on a limited and non-exclusive basis.

B1 zones are areas for industry, warehouse, utilities and telecommunication uses.

To ensure that the function and character of industrial premises are not compromised or displaced by religious activities, religious organisations and property owners must observe certain conditions.

The premises cannot be owned by or exclusively leased to religious organisations. They should be available for rental for other events such as industrial training, talks and conferences.

There shall be no display of signage, advertisements or posters of the religious use at the premises or on the building exterior.

The premises should not be furnished to resemble a worship hall and there shall be no display of religious symbols, icons or any religious paraphernalia when it is not in use by the religious organisation.

Religious organisations that are currently using industrial premises for religious activities will be granted a three-year grace period to comply with the guidelines.

In addition, the guidelines also provide for the maximum allowable plot ratio and storey height for sites zoned for Place of Worship to be incrementally relaxed.

This gives religious organisations greater scope to expand their premises and grow their space to cater to their needs.

For places of worship located at the fringe of landed and low-density housing areas, for example, the gross plot ratio will be revised from the current 1.0 to 1.4, allowing buildings of up to four-storeys high.

Those located within housing estates and areas with gross plot ratio beyond 1.4, industrial and other non-housing areas, will see their gross plot ratio increased from 1.4 to 1.6, allowing a building height of up to five storeys.

MCYS and URA said the government continues to pay close attention to the changing needs of religious communities on the ground and to gather feedback on the issue.

Different religious bodies have been consulted in the development of the new guidelines.

The government will review or clarify guidelines consultatively to meet emerging needs, and where possible, allow for more flexible land use.

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