SINGAPORE: The Government is considering having different kinds of leases for new HDB flats in the Greater Southern Waterfront as well as the new central business district in Jurong, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Thursday (Aug 11).
"Frankly if I have a HDB flat there, and it's highly subsidised, the person who gets the flat has a huge gain, and how do you ensure equity for the guy who gets the flat as opposed to the guy who doesn't get the flat, so we are thinking through what is the best way to have HDB living in the city centre," said Mr Wong, speaking at a forum organised by the National University of Singapore Students' Political Association.
"We don't have a good solution yet but we are thinking through different options. It may be a different kind of HDB lease, different lease period, different requirements," he added.
Mr Wong said that different kinds of leases would ensure Singaporeans feel a sense of belonging, regardless of their backgrounds.
PORTS TO BE CONSOLIDATED IN TUAS
Mr Wong also highlighted the plans to move sea ports, which are now located near the city and Pasir Panjang, to Tuas for greater efficiency. This will free up prime waterfront land, known as the Greater Southern Waterfront, for various uses.
He also spoke about plans to develop the Jurong Lake district. For example, the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail terminal will be underground in the area.
GOVERNMENT TO CONTINUE TO IMPROVE PUBLIC HOUSING
The minister said that with 80 per cent of Singaporeans living in HDB flats, the Government will continue to improve the quality of public housing, while ensuring that it remains affordable.
The first batch of flats in Tengah new town will be launched from 2018. The town, to be sited next to the Jurong Innovation District, will also boast a green corridor linking residents to the Western and Central Catchment Area.
PUBLIC HOUSING IN CBD CAN REDUCE SEGREGATION: ANALYST
Analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke to welcomed the construction of public housing in prime areas such as the Greater Southern Waterfront, but also raised concerns about ensuring equity for those who are not able to get such flats.
Given that most buildings in the central business district are offices or private apartments, some analysts said having public housing in the area would bring about diversity to the skyline, as well as potentially change the area's demographic.
Associate Professor Sing Tien Foo, who is from the Department of Real Estate, School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore, said it could "reduce or minimise what we call the 'segregation problem'".
"You don't want the whole area to be only (for) private (housing), the rich people who live in the area. By bringing in some public housing into this area, you can also allow more ... low and medium household income families to be able to live in the city area, and also enjoy some of these waterfront amenities," he said.
With these attractions, demand for units is likely to be high.
Mr Saktiandi Supaat, who is a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development, said: "The Southern Waterfront, harbourfront area would also garner a lot of interest probably from the young Singaporeans who are interested in living closer to, or staying somewhere in the CBD as well.
"I think it adds additional supply of housing on top of the one available in Duxton, those in Tanjong Pagar area. But then again, like Minister mentioned, the supply would definitely not meet the demand."
One analyst pointed to public housing project The Pinnacle@Duxton, which is located in the prime Tanjong Pagar area. Five-room flats there were originally sold for more than S$300,000, but when they were put up for resale, some sold for more than S$1 million.
Said Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty: "Perhaps they are looking at shorter leases. (With) shorter leases, the minus point is that it takes away your resale market element; that means you are buying strictly to live in it and to experience the waterfront living environment. There would probably be a very limited resale market because of the shorter lease. So in that way, the capital appreciation is quite limited."
However, analysts added that there will always be demand for choice units in mature estates. They pointed to some resale HDB units in Clementi and Bishan, which recently sold for more than S$1 million.