SINGAPORE: The owner of a Tampines flat who had a koi tank built on the steps outside his home will appeal against a request by the Housing Development Board (HDB) to have it removed, Tampines Town Council said on Wednesday (Jan 16).
The Tampines Street 41 resident had installed glass panels encasing the space on the steps leading to the entrance of his ground-floor unit, converting it into an aquarium housing about a dozen pet fish.
The owner accesses the flat via an adjacent unit, which he also owns.
Although the aquarium has been around for some years, the owner was not aware he needed a permit for it.
It was only last August that he requested the Tampines Town Council for a permit.
Now, citing safety issues, HDB has said that it cannot allow the resident to keep the koi tank.
According to HDB, there are risks of injury or fatality arising from the entrance steps having been "fundamentally altered".
For instance, the glass panels can "shatter on impact ... and unsupervised children may climb and fall into the tank through the open top", HDB said in response to queries by Channel NewsAsia.
"Furthermore, there are electrical sockets and cables exposed to the weather elements ... the Tampines Town Council has shared these reasons with the flat owner and advised him to remove the koi tank."
Tampines Town Council confirmed this with Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday, adding that it is facilitating an appeal by the resident with "no immediate deadline at this juncture".
Although HDB gives town councils the flexibility to manage common spaces, it is guided by the principle that safety must not be compromised.
HDB said: "Hence, town councils would generally allow residents to place small or movable items, such as shoe racks and potted plants along the common corridor, so long as they do not pose any safety concerns."
Mr Baey said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he visited the koi tank but the owners were not in.
"Hopefully we can find a way to meet the authority’s requirements as well as keep the tank," he said.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia last August, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng noted that there has been no complaint from residents on the koi tank since its installation a few years ago.
"So the town council is prepared to customise a response to it, and see how we could help the resident keep the pond," he said then.
Mr Baey also noted that while it is obviously against the by-laws, the authorities should be open-minded to look at things on a "case-by-case basis where it warrants".
However, he urged residents to consult authorities first before going ahead with any modification to their homes.