SINGAPORE: An incentive scheme will be rolled out to encourage building owners to convert existing office developments in the Central Business District (CBD) to mixed-use developments, as part of plans to rejuvenate the city centre.
The CBD Incentive Scheme was announced on Wednesday (Mar 27) at the launch of the URA Draft Master Plan 2019 exhibition. It applies to areas around Anson Road, Cecil Street, Shenton Way, Robinson Road and Tanjong Pagar.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said he wants to introduce a broader mix of uses so that the CBD is "not only a place to work, but also a vibrant place to live and play".
The scheme will offer an increase in gross plot ratio, which indicates to developers how much gross floor area they are allowed to build in that site. With a higher number, more units can be built.
Buildings in Anson Road and Cecil Street that qualify should be at least 20 years old from the date of last Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP), and be predominantly used for offices.
For Anson Road, Tanjong Pagar Road, Robinson Road and Shenton Way, the qualifying minimum site area is 1,000sqm. For Cecil Street, the scheme will require 1,000sqm for all Corner Sites and 2,000sqm for all other sites.
If the intended land use after conversion is for hotels or commercial and residential use, the gross plot ratio will increase by up to 25 per cent for both Anson Road and Cecil Street.
If developers want to use the land for residential with commercial use on the ground floor, the ratio can be increased by up to 30 per cent.
The CBD scheme will take effect from the date of gazette for Master Plan 2019.
"Beyond the CBD, we also want to encourage private developers and building owners to consider rejuvenating their existing buildings especially if they are old," Mr Wong added.
This will be done through another new scheme - the Strategic Development Incentive (SDI) Scheme. While this is applicable islandwide, strategic areas such as Orchard and Downtown are encouraged.
The intent is to encourage commercial building owners to collaborate and comprehensively redevelop adjacent properties through bold, innovative proposals that will transform the street or precinct, said Mr Wong.
To encourage such proposals, the Government will offer a mix of incentives, including an increase in gross plot ratio and flexibility on other development controls, he added.
To qualify for the SDI scheme, developments will have to be at least 20 years old from the date of last TOP. Its current land use should be for commercial, or mixed-use developments with predominantly commercial uses.
Proposals should include a minimum of two adjacent sites unless it is large enough on its own to achieve a transformational impact on the precinct.
The SDI scheme takes effect from Wednesday.
With the introduction of the new schemes, the existing Bonus Plot Ratio Scheme, which was first launched in 1989 to allow intensification of commercial buildings around MRT stations, will be valid until the Master Plan 2019 gets gazetted later this year. After that, the scheme will be phased out.
More than 95 per cent of eligible developments have made use of the scheme. URA, in a circular to stakeholders, said that it will honour the previously approved gross floor area.
"Our city has evolved over time to ensure we remain competitive, vibrant and liveable. ... City centres are no longer just places to work, but have begun to evolve into places where people want to live, work and play in," said Ms Chou Mei, group director for conservation and urban design at URA.
The schemes are part of a larger push to rejuvenate Singapore's city centre and familiar places, as well as to provide more jobs closer to homes for Singaporeans.
This is done through three economic clusters in the north, east and west called "gateways". Each gateway is anchored around a few key growth sectors. They will also serve as major employment hubs.
URA’s Master Plan is reviewed every five years and charts out the Government’s plans for land use over the next 10 to 15 years.