No pressure to redevelop vacated prime sites

As the government vacates prime sites meant for housing, authorities are looking into their temporary use, according to media reports.

In September, the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) announced it was shifting from Depot Road to Upper Bukit Timah.

Based on the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) 2014 Master Plan 2014, the 60,300 sq m site in Depot Road will be used for a civic and community institution over the next 10 to 15 years. But it is zoned for residential use, according to the government’s 2030 Land Use Plan.

There are other prime sites which are not used for their long-term purposes yet, namely the former Raffles Institution (RI) in Grange Road, Tanglin Village in Dempsey Road and the former Ministry of Education headquarters in Kay Siang Road.

The government has no immediate plans to redevelop them, revealed a representative from URA. Nonetheless, the authorities are working to determine their allowable uses for the meantime, said spokesman from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

Another site facing the same situation is Wessex Estate. Although it’s intended for housing in the long term plan, it has been integrated into JTC Corporation’s one-north.

At present, there are 58 semi-detached houses and 26 blocks of walk-up apartments at the 30 hectare Wessex Estate. The houses are being leased on one-year tenancies, while a few blocks have been transformed into work lofts and studios for artists.

R’ST Research director Ong Kah Seng estimated that the CMPB site could make room for 700 condo units, while the four sites combined could yield around 1,900 to 2,400 homes. However, they are expected to be offered on 99-year tenures or less as such land are scarce, said Chestertons Research Head Elaine Chow.

“But plans for developing these residential areas are likely to be firmed up only after the government has fully tackled housing needs for the masses (in such suburban locations as Bidadari, Tampines North and Punggol Matilda)… Buyers’ interest for high-end homes has also eased over the years, so there is no need to stress (the market) with the redevelopment of these clusters,” Ong added.

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