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Cluster housing to get more space, greenery

Under revised URA guidelines, a new set of formulae will determine the maximum number of houses developers are allowed to build in cluster-housing projects.

SINGAPORE: Strata landed housing, also known as cluster homes, are set to get more greenery and become more spacious under a new set of guidelines unveiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday (Aug 22).

Under the revised guidelines, which will take effect on Saturday, a new set of formulae will determine the maximum number of houses developers are allowed to build in various types of strata landed housing developments. The new formulae will generally result in fewer units, the URA said in a statement.

“The move addresses feedback from residents in landed housing estates that such developments could inject a disproportionately large number of units, causing additional traffic and parking problems as well as creating a more congested living environment,” the URA said.

"If you have a very high density of many people, that means more cars definitely," said Chris Koh, the owner of real estate agency Chris International. "I can understand because many of these developments are in landed housing estates. The roads there are narrow. So the moment you have a cluster housing of many units, it means more people and more cars and that will cause congestion on the roads."

There are also new guidelines to enhance the communal facilities and greenery provision within such developments. Developers will have to set aside at least 45 per cent of the land area for communal open space, up from the current 30 per cent. Of this, a minimum of 25 per cent has to be set aside for on-ground greenery, while up to 20 per cent can be used for communal facilities like swimming pools and playgrounds.

“By increasing the minimum communal open space to be set aside in strata landed housing developments and mandating minimum on-ground greenery coverage, we hope that strata landed housing developments will further enhance the quality of the living environment for residents,” the URA said.

MIXED REACTIONS FROM INDUSTRY PLAYERS

Bukit Sembawang, a developer of several strata landed homes, has welcomed the changes. In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, the developer said the new requirements "will be compatible with the surrounding landed houses in terms of openness, greenery and privacy". CEO Ng Chee Seng also said the company will continue to develop mixed landed terraces and semi-detached houses in the estates.

Architectural firm RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, which was involved in a few strata landed home projects, said the new requirements are unlikely to drive up design and building costs.

"I would not think it will be substantial," said the company's director Ng Meng Hui. "In term of building structure, it is still pretty much the same - three, four-storey structures. Other than that, perhaps the additional cost would come from landscaping, which is quite negligible."

If developers do raise costs, it is unlikely to be passed on to buyers. Mr Koh said: "Buyers today are very educated, they follow the market and they know exactly what they want to pay. We also know that with all the (property cooling) measures, this is a buyer's market. 

"So if you price too high, the buyer will not be interested in the development because he has a lot of choices. He can actually buy other developments. And the dicey thing between a cluster housing and a pure landed property is the pricing. The moment you price it too high, one would say, 'I would rather buy a landed property.'"

Developers are also expected to put up lower land bids, since they will now have to build fewer units on the same plot of land. 

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