URA Draft Master Plan 2019 – A Plan For The Future

The much awaited URA Draft Master Plan 2019 was officially announced on 27 March 2019. The Master Plan is a land use plan that guides Singapore’s development needs over the next 10 to 15 years and is updated every five years.

During his speech at the launch of the Draft Master Plan 2019 Exhibition, Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development, said: “Cities everywhere have their own processes for urban planning. But very few have been as effective as Singapore in planning for the long-term and translating these plans into reality. This is a key competitive advantage for Singapore.”

“The Master Plan process is not just about having more buildings and infrastructure. It is really an exercise to reimagine and remake our city – to think about new versions of urban living that will be more fulfilling and sustainable; to think of new ways to stay relevant to the world. Ultimately, that is how we can give ourselves the best chance of success in an uncertain and volatile world,” added Mr Wong.

The URA Draft Master Plan 2019 has five main themes:

  1. Liveable & inclusive Communities
  2. Local Hubs, Global Gateways
  3. Convenient & Sustainable Mobility
  4. Rejuvenating Familiar Places
  5. Sustainable & Resilient City of the Future

1. Liveable & Inclusive Communities – New Housing Concepts, More Amenities

Singaporeans can look forward to a new variety of housing options with exciting features like community-centric designs, accessible amenities, greenery and recreational spaces. The Singapore Government has plans to present new housing concepts as well as more choices to house its citizens. The end result is to have smart and sustainable towns that are well-connected, providing community-centric amenities, inclusive and vibrant public spaces.

From being closer to nature at Tengah, living by the waterfront at Punggol, staying at city fringes in Queenstown, or trying out new housing concepts at Kampong Bugis, a new exciting array of housing options will be designed to suit residents’ preferred lifestyles.

a) Tengah
The land use in the upcoming Tengah new town is now clearly outlined, with an estimated 42,000 housing units being planned for. Tengah will also be a car-lite town, prioritising the movement of people over cars whenever possible. Besides being served by the Jurong Regional Line, there will also be more cycling paths to encourage alternative modes of transportation.

b) Punggol
There are plans for Punggol to be developed into Singapore’s first smart district, housing several key growth industries such as cybersecurity and digital technology. Termed as the Punggol Digital District, it will bring together the Singapore Institute of Technology campus, JTC’s business parks and green lifestyle destinations. Housing developments will be integrated with urban greenery – even HDB multi-storey car parks will have terraced roof gardens to provide green spaces for residents to enjoy.

2. Local Hubs, Global Gateways – Strengthening Economic Gateways, Policies to Enable Innovation & Growth

Currently, the most developed part of Singapore is in the South where the city centre is. The Draft Master Plan also set out plans to develop major gateways across the Eastern, Western and Northern parts of Singapore. These gateways will capitalise on Singapore’s air, land and sea connections to external markets and will support new growth industries and provide more jobs closer to home for Singaporeans. Singapore’s reputation as a regional hub will also be reinforced.

a) Northern Gateway
Through the development of the new Agri-Food Innovation Park at Sungei Kadut and the Punggol Digital District, the Northern Gateway is the entrance to growth opportunities in new innovative sectors such as Agri-Tech & Food, Digital Tech and Cybersecurity. These will be supported by the largest business node in the North, the Woodlands Regional Centre.

b) Eastern Gateway
Capitalising on the expansion of Changi Air Hub, the Eastern Gateway will host aviation-related businesses relying on air connectivity to the world. It will also be supported by an innovative lifestyle business cluster comprising the Singapore University of Technology & Design, Changi Business Park and the future Changi East Urban District.

c) Western Gateway
Anchored by Jurong Lake District (JLD), the largest commercial node outside the CBD, and the premier high-tech manufacturing hub comprising Jurong Innovation District (JID) and surrounding Jurong and Tuas industrial estates, the Western Gateway will leverage on improved transport linkages and Tuas Terminal’s global maritime connectivity to facilitate the seamless movements of goods, services and people. The presence of world-class universities also makes it the ideal location for businesses, academia and talent to meet, exchange ideas and collaborate.

3. Convenient & Sustainable Mobility – Urban Transformation 

As part of the URA Draft Master Plan 2019, more jobs will be planned in the various business nodes closer to the homes of Singaporeans, giving them easier access to work and amenities and making the common adage of “work, live and play” more realisable than ever. 

Amenities such as schools, shops and parks will be reached easily via walk, cycle or public transport. According to URA’s targets, by 2040, residents should be able to reach the nearest neighbourhood centre within 20 minutes, and 9 in 10 of all peak-period journeys should be able to be completed within 45 minutes.

One of the most important proposals that came out of this objective is the concept of “urban transformation”, which will encourage economic growth and bring jobs and amenities closer to residents. Two areas that will be witness to urban transformation are the Central Business District (CBD) and the Greater Southern Waterfront. 

a) CBD Rejuvenation
For the city centre, the Government’s view is that even though it is already the most developed part of Singapore today, there is a need to continuously rejuvenate it in order to stay competitive and vibrant. The Master Plan seeks to introduce a broader mix of uses so that the CBD is not only a place to work during the day and dominated by office developments, but also a vibrant place to live and play with activities in the night time as well as weekends. 

To achieve this, URA will be introducing the CBD Incentive Scheme* to encourage the conversion of older office developments into mixed-use (hotel and residential) projects by offering an increase in gross plot ratio. This will apply to Anson Road, Cecil Street, Shenton Way, Robinson Road and Tanjong Pagar areas within the CBD. 
*The existing Bonus Plot Ratio (BPR) scheme was introduced in 1989 to allow for the intensification of commercial developments in close proximity to designated MRT Stations will be removed.

Another scheme being introduced by URA is the Strategic Development Incentive Scheme. This scheme will encourage owners of adjacent commercial or mixed-use development with predominantly commercial uses to join forces and comprehensively redevelop buildings in a way that would transform the surrounding urban environment. This follows an earlier incentive scheme that was initiated for buildings along Orchard Road.

According to Mr Lawrence Wong, what URA is looking for is “not a one building development” but “a comprehensive redevelopment”, with “bold, innovative proposals that will transform the street or even the entire precinct”. This scheme, which offers a mix of incentives, including increase in gross plot ratio and flexibility on other development controls, goes beyond the CBD and is open to owners of buildings anywhere in Singapore. 

b) Greater Southern Waterfront Rejuvenation
At more than 2,000 ha, the Greater Southern Waterfront stretches from Pasir Panjang Terminals to Gardens by the Bay East and is about six times the size of Marina Bay today. Work on the Greater Southern Waterfront will start in the next five to 10 years. But with such magnitude, including the moving out of the container ports, the entire project will span more than 20 years. The movement of ports will free up 1,000ha of land, while non-port areas like the Pasir Panjang Power District, Keppel Club and Sentosa will contribute another 1,000ha. 

In the area where Keppel Club is today, new housing and residential options will be developed after the lease expires in 2021 and the land is returned back to the Government. Another site, the Pasir Panjang Power District will be used for lifestyle and other purposes. The Government will enhance green spaces in Mount Faber and develop Pasir Panjang Linear Park. In addition, there will also be more homes in the Spottiswoode and Kampong Bahru areas.

Extension of Rail Corridor
Another major development is the extension of the Rail Corridor – a former railway line that stretches 24km and links Woodlands to the Greater Sounthern Waterfront. Now a “green corridor”, it will be transformed into a community space that links 1 million people within 1km of the corridor. When the Rail Corridor is connected by 2021, it will lead to the development of surrounding lands and the rejuvenation of older districts. Giving the same respect to heritage, the former Bukit Timah Fire Station along the Rail Corridor will be conserved and used as a centre for visitors and the former Station Master’s Quarters opposite Bukit Timah Railway Station will also be conserved and repurposed for new uses in future.

4. Rejuvenating Familiar Places – Retaining Identity & Protecting Heritage

Every time there is a new development, the Government will consider carefully if there is anything of historical significance or heritage value. If so, they will consider how these heritage buildings and be retained and repurposed for creative new uses.

URA will work closely with communities to retain the distinctive qualities of local identity areas by setting guidelines for existing and new developments, as well as retaining key elements of its existing identity. Two old estates that will be rejuvenated are Kampong Bugis and Dakota Crescent. In Kampong Bugis, there may be 1,000 new housing units and a tender for a master developer to plan a car-lite, waterfront neighbourhood. Over at Dakota Crescent, some sites within the area will be rezoned and earmarked for better uses, enabling the presence of new homes and facilities to rejuvenate the estate while its well-loved playground and the surrounding six blocks are retained. 

Other new initiatives include new commercial-residential projects at the future Bedok South MRT station; a whopping 10,000 new public and private homes at the Bayshore precinct by 2040; rezoning of sites at Jurong East, with some commercial sites being rezoned under commercial-and-residential sites with higher plot ratio, and reserve sites being rezoned as white sites.

5. Sustainable & Resilient City of the Future – Creating Space & Investing In Infrastructures To Build Resources

With land being such a scarcity, there is a need to employ innovative strategies that will help to optimise space to meet our growing needs. One of the ways is going “down under” – shifting more utilities, infrastructure, storage and warehousing facilities underground to free up land above ground for higher and better uses. For example, placing a 230kV substation underground will free up more than 3ha of land for other uses. A new underground Special Detailed and Control Plan (SDCP) is introduced to enable better planning of the underground space. The first SDCP to be in 3D, it will first focus on three areas, namely Marina Bay, Jurong Innovation District and Punggol Digital District, but may be expanded to include more areas in the future.