S$25m Interim Estate Upgrading Programme to help private estates improve

Private housing estates can now improve their physical environment under a new Interim Estate Upgrading Programme.

The S$25 million scheme allows for small scale improvements such as construction of footpaths, ramps and rain shelters.

It will complement the existing Estate Upgrading Programme (EUP), meant for upgrading older estates that are at least 30 years old.

Private estates like Tai Hwan Terrace in Serangoon Gardens may want to apply for the new programme, as residents said some areas need improvement.

Winston Lim, resident, said: “I think (rain shelters) is a very good idea because as residents in a private estate, we are usually quite far from public transport like bus stops and train stations, so we usually walk quite a distance to reach home. So if you caught in the rain, I think you need some kind of shelter in between.”

Another resident, Daphne Tan, said: “…sometimes we can come back past midnight, so if it is lighted up, then you will feel more secure.”

Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, chairman, Estate Upgrading Programme Committee, and Parliamentary Secretary, National Development, said: “The idea is for immediate upgrading that may be needed by estates which are relatively less old…sometimes when the estate gets developed, certain things may need to be improved…(such as) access to roads – so ramps may be needed – pathways, lightings…sometimes banner posts, because when they begin to have activities, they need banner posts. So these are the things that we think we can do immediately.

“You do not have to wait until 30 years later, then you put up all these things you see. So it is kind of like an extension of the EUP to provide assistance for private estates dwellers.”

Dr Maliki said there will be a cap on costs of items to be upgraded, to ensure prudence.

Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, who announced the three-year pilot project, said her constituency will certainly apply for the funds.

Mrs Lim, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and MP for Aljunied GRC, said: “It is really a more timely response to the day-to-day needs of residents.

“I believe with the full funding, it will be extremely helpful. Because unlike the HDB estates where they have the Town Council and they have been contributing towards the Town Council Funds, private estates do not really have a mechanism to contribute towards it. So the full funding of the public area is extremely helpful.”

Some 250,000 households in private estates are expected to benefit from the programme. But the general rule is that estates which had undergone improvements in the last five years will not be eligible for the programme.

Over the next few weeks, private estates’ committees can start applying for the funding. The first interim upgrading works are expected to start in the first quarter of next year.

The existing EUP, which was launched in 2000, has benefited 38 older private estates. These include Serangoon Gardens, Tanjong Katong and Braddell Heights.

One to two estates are selected for EUP every one to two years. Improvement works under the EUP include upgrading of parks and playgrounds, drainage upgrading works and upgrading of footpaths.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 21 Jun 2009

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