Public engagement exercise launched to review Singapore's long-term land use needs

Public engagement exercise launched to review Singapore's long-term land use needs

A view of HDB blocks against the Singapore skyline
A view of HDB blocks against the Singapore skyline. (File photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: A year-long public engagement exercise reviewing Singapore’s long-term land use needs and strategies was launched on Saturday (Jul 17) by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The review of the country’s long-term land use plan, which guides development over the next 50 years and beyond, aims to “safeguard land for a quality living environment, based on evolving trends and changing demands”, said the URA.

Such reviews take place every 10 years, with the last review held in 2011.

The exercise involves gathering feedback from members of the public and stakeholders from various fields on developments that could unfold in the future, and their corresponding implications on land use, said the authority.

READ: Greener and cleaner: Reimagining our cities in the wake of COVID-19

This feedback will then be put towards the development of long-term land use plans and strategies to cater to different "future possibilities".

"This will ensure that our plans are flexible and adaptable to respond to changing needs and circumstances, and sufficient land continues to be safeguarded for sustainable development and a quality living environment," said the URA.

Speaking at a dialogue marking the launch of the exercise, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said Singapore must make even better use of its land, as it is already highly built-up.

The country is also facing more uncertainties, with “emerging trends and complex challenges”, he said.

“The existential threat of climate change, economic and technological disruptions ... and the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics, are just some examples of significant developments that will change how we plan for our future city.

“We must not only plan for what we know now, but also prepare for what we might know about … and keep our plans adaptable and flexible.”

READ: Could golf courses be the answer to some of Singapore’s development land needs?

POSSIBLE TOPICS OF DISCUSSION

The URA’s chief planner Hwang Yu-Ning said the authority hopes to focus on how climate resilience measures may be incorporated into the plan.

Ms Hwang noted how some structures that are meant to deal with the effects of climate change have multiple uses. These include the Marina Barrage and the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which double up as recreational spaces for the public.

“So we are hoping to unearth more of such solutions, even as we try to tackle climate change,” she said.

Another element that will be looked at includes reviewing how the long-term plan can better support Singapore's food resilience goals, she said. The impact of working from home will also be on the agenda.

“Where should the geographic distribution of office space be? Whether it’s still concentrated in the (central business district) as well as regional centres? Or do people anticipate and expect a more distributed version of it?

“There’s also a difference between where aspirations lie and what actually unfolds over time. So we want to create a range of possibilities,” said Ms Hwang.

FOUR PHASES OF ENGAGEMENT

The engagement exercise, which will run from July 2021 to June 2022, will be carried out in four phases.

In the first phase, lasting until September this year, the URA will conduct online polls and workshops to understand people's hopes and concerns for the future. One such poll will be available until Aug 16.

“Feedback collected will contribute towards shaping a collective vision and shared values for the (long-term plan review), and the development of our long-term plans and strategies,” said the URA.

The second phase will run from October to December this year. During this period, different stakeholders - residents, businesses, professional community and academics - will be invited to discuss possible land use strategies to achieve the long-term plan’s vision.

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"We will also engage Singaporeans to gather insights on how we should plan our future city, such as housing towns, workplaces and the central business district, as well as recreational and familiar places," said the URA.

In the third phase, from January 2022 to March 2022, members of the public will be consulted on the set of possible land use strategies developed in the previous phase. This will be done through various platforms, including townhall sessions.

In the fourth and final phase, from April 2022 to June 2022, the URA will present the long-term land use plans and strategies developed, based on the public's feedback and ideas from earlier phases.

These outcomes will also guide the next Master Plan review in 2024.

In the nearer term, relevant agencies will also explore implementing some of the plans and strategies to "progressively realise our collective vision and values for our living environment”, said the URA.

The authority added that relevant feedback will also be consolidated from other engagement exercises, such as the recently-concluded Emerging Stronger Conversations and the ongoing discussions around the Singapore Green Plan.

Mr Lim Eng Hwee, CEO of URA, said: “Plans are effective only when they are relevant to the people, and anchored on a shared vision and values that resonate deeply with Singaporeans’ hopes and aspirations.”

Source: CNA/cl

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