SINGAPORE: Only religious groups that actively contribute to the community can bid for land reserved for places of worship, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said on Thursday (Sep 13) in a press release outlining changes to the tender framework for place of worship land.
MND will be tightening the prerequisites for such tenders, which used to be evaluated solely on price, it said in the press release.
Bidders now have to demonstrate that they are religious entities that have organised regular activities that involve and benefit the wider community in Singapore, and that they have a need for the new space.
They must also show that they have adequate and sustainable local funding to finance the purchase and development of the place of worship site, and will not use foreign donations.
This will help avoid situations where bidders secure foreign donations to bid aggressively for the land, said the ministry.
Only those who pass these criteria will be considered, and the land will be awarded to the qualified tenderer with the highest bid price.
MND said it worked closely with apex religious groups to review the land tender process for places of worship land.
Eternal Pure Land, a company that was not a religious organisation, had been awarded land in Sengkang that was meant for a place of worship back in 2014. MND terminated its agreement with the company after residents objected to its plans to build a commercial columbarium at the site.
The land was later awarded to Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society which was to build a Chinese temple at the Fernvale Link site.
LAUNCH OF LAND FOR RELIGIOUS HUBS
For the first time, MND will also be releasing land for the development of hubs that will be able to house multiple religious organisations belonging to the same religion.
MND will release sites for one church hub and one Chinese temple hub via concept-and-price tenders, and religious organisations can jointly apply to develop and manage these hubs.
As with tenders for standalone sites, tenderers for a place of worship hub will have to meet the requirements for developing such sites.
MND also said it will release at least two church and Chinese temple sites for tender each year.
"This provides greater certainty to aid planning by religious organisations, and will result in more places of worship land supply than in the past, when sites were put out intermittently," it said.