Govt to employ new models for private sector involvement in development plans

Govt to employ new models for private sector involvement in development plans

Aside from putting out larger land parcels for private development, the Government will also set up Business Improvement Districts - business-led and -fund bodies aimed at improving a defined commercial area.

SINGAPORE: The Government will employ new partnership models as part of efforts to increase private sector involvement in its development plans, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday (Nov 17).

Speaking at the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore's (REDAS) 57th anniversary dinner, Mr Wong said this is part of the Government's strategies to keep Singapore in the premier league of global cities.

In his speech, Mr Wong laid out one such partnership model - the "master developer" model, citing the development plans at Marina Bay as an example.

Previously, only smaller plots were put up for tender, building by building, but the Government put out significantly larger land parcels for private development at Marina Bay. This approach allowed developers to optimise different uses and build in a more integrated manner.

Mr Wong said the authorities were considering implementing this approach when developing newer districts as it has worked in other countries such as London's Canary Wharf.

"What’s quite striking about these projects is that the developers have a very strong sense of ownership and it arises from the belief that good infrastructure and place management enhances the value and attractiveness of these projects," said Mr Wong. "So the developers have a strong sense of ownership, they have a compelling vision to guide the entire development, and they also have a very strong focus on public spaces and programming," he added.

Mr Wong also revealed that Business Improvement Districts (BID) would be set up as another partnership model. That BIDs are business-led and business-funded bodies formed to improve a defined commercial area, he said.

Property owners and retailers would be represented and have a say in what they want for the BID area, according to Mr Wong. They would also contribute funds which would be ring-fenced for use in the BID area.

Said Mr Wong: "They will come up with their own solutions to make the area more attractive and increase footfall. We've seen many positive examples of this.

"It allows stakeholders to have direct ownership and responsibility in implementing plans for their own area, it helps to bring in additional vibrancy to the area and it generates footfall for the district - it's good for business. That's something we're studying as well, to see how it can potentially be implemented within our context."

Mr Wong also emphasised the importance of the digital economy, saying more needs to be done to harness its benefits.
He laid out a list of greenfield sites that would serve as testbeds. For instance, Jurong Lake District will be used to roll out autonomous vehicles and more efficient urban logistics systems, while Punggol - the site of the new Singapore Institute of Technology campus - will serve as a new cluster for IT and cyber-related firms.
"We think this can create better synergies between business and academia. I know we often talk about co-location and mixed-use, but I think we have not fully realised the benefits of such synergies," he said.
Mr Wong added that authorities would look into exploring such ideas so that Singapore can be at the centre of the new digital economy, in order to stay competitive as a global city.

Source: CNA/hs