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URA turns down Centurion's request to raise bed capacity at Westlite Toh Guan

THE Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has turned down Centurion Corporation's request for an increase in bed capacity for its workers' dormitary in Jurong.

Singapore-listed Centurion announced on Monday night the URA's decision not to allow it to raise the bed capacity at Westlite Toh Guan from 7,820 to 8,628.

The number of workers housed in Westlite Toh Guan should hence be reduced to 7,820, as originally approved by the URA back in 2011.

Centurion had attributed the discrepancy between the approved number and the actual number of workers housed in Westlite Toh Guan to a documentation discrepancy.

With the new Foreign Employee Dormitories Act, which kicked in on Jan 1, all workers dormitories exceeding 1,000 beds have to be licensed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) by Jan 1, 2017.

During the licensing application process for one of the group's dormitories, Westlite Toh Guan, it was brought to the group's attention that there was a discrepancy between the actual bed capacity of 8,628 and the bed capacity of 7,820 documented in the architect's plans that were attached to the written permission granted by the URA back in 2011. The written permission was issued for an asset enhancement initiative for the dormitory.

Centurion said that it intends to write in to appeal against the URA's decision. But in the event that URA's decision remains final, the bed capacity in Westlite Toh Guan will be reduced by 808 beds and any excess workers will be relocated.

While this could lead to a decrease in the valuation of Westlite Toh Guan when the valuation is conducted at the close of the financial year, it is unlikely to impact the group's profits materially since most of the excess workers can be relocated to other Singapore dormitories owned by the group, it added.

But if the relocation of workers to the group's other dormitories is not agreed by customers, the reduction in profits after tax due to the loss of 808 beds will be about S$2 million per annum.