Rental without restrictions

So, where does this leave the churches?

Commercial premises cannot be owned by or exclusively leased to religious organisations, state the guidelines released yesterday.

So, where does this leave City Harvest Church with its $310-million stake in Suntec Singapore? Or New Creation Church, whose business arm is partnering CapitaMalls Asia to build a $1-billion lifestyle hub in One North?

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the Civic, Cultural and Retail Complex at One North is approved as a “mixed development for civic, cultural and commercial uses”.

This means the auditorium is to be operated by Rock Productions – New Creation’s business arm – on a commercial basis and to be open for rental without any restrictions. “However, non-exclusive and limited religious use can be allowed based on our guidelines,” said a URA spokeswoman.

While the church declined comment, MediaCorp understands that Rock Productions is aware the complex is not zoned for religious use but as a mixed development.

As for Suntec City’s deal with City Harvest, the URA spokeswoman said it was a “private matter between the two parties”. While the authority is not privy to the details of the agreement, the spokeswoman noted that Suntec City was an approved commercial development and use of the premises must adhere to this, “regardless of ownership”.

A City Harvest spokesperson said it is studying the guidelines’ implications and will provide a “substantive response” at a later date.

Source : Today – 21 Jul 2010

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