URA seeks public feedback on guidelines for private shophouses

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is reviewing guidelines for restaurants and pubs located in private shophouses near residential areas. It is asking for public feedback on whether entertainment activities should be freely allowed at those premises.

For the past 20 years, Lai Fak Nian, managing director of Plum Village Restaurant, has been thinking of various ways to entertain customers and spur business at the restaurant.

“We hope to hold performances, showcasing the Hakka culture, once every two to three months. For example, folk songs to complement the dining experience,” he said. His plans, however, did not materialise because he was not sure if they were allowed.

Currently, restaurants and pubs have to get URA’s approval to hold entertainment activities within their premises. But this rule may soon be relaxed.

Yak Pek Ching, head of Development Control, URA, said: “Moving ahead, operators have asked for more flexibility in the types of activities that can be allowed in the shophouses.”

URA is also considering allowing some form of cooking at shops which sell ready-made takeaway items.

The proposed relaxation of guidelines could save businesses S$800 in application fees. It will also be less time consuming for the business owners as the approval procedures usually take about two weeks to complete.

Residents living near shophouses have welcomed the prospect of having a more vibrant neighbourhood. But they are also concerned about the noise level and the lack of car park facilities in the area.

Some residents said they have resorted to leaving trash bins outside their homes to reserve parking lots.

A resident, Jennifer Teo, said: “They will park the car just right in front of your car. When you want to move out, you can’t move out. Then you’d have to horn at the people.”

URA said it received about 14 complaints last year, mostly on disturbances caused by al fresco business activities. As for this year, 16 complaints have been lodged so far.

Over the entire month of September, the public can provide feedback on URA’s review of guidelines via the authority’s website. The urban planners hope to garner some 350 responses from the public consultation exercise.

The survey findings and possible changes to the guidelines are expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 29 Aug 2008

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