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Push to speed up development as new sites released

Cautious approach to private housing adopted in land sales programme

[SINGAPORE] New sites rolled out yesterday stirred excitement in the market, even as the government adopted a cautious approach to private housing in the latest land sales programme for H2 2014 to account for the twin factors of oversupply and weaker demand.

The new sites were rolled out under both confirmed and reserve lists in the residential and commercial property sectors.

In particular, the strategy to accelerate the development of various growth areas as identified in the latest land-use master plan is made clear in the latest slate, noted Lee Lay Keng, DTZ's regional head (SEA), research.

For instance, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will launch the tender for a much-awaited commercial and residential development site in Holland Village in December.

"The sale of the site will further enhance the existing urban village character of the area," said the Ministry of National Development (MND).

In addition, URA has enlarged a commercial site next to Paya Lebar MRT Station and moved it up from the reserve list to the confirmed list, reflecting its commitment to drive the growth of Paya Lebar as a regional commercial hub.

Sites on the reserve list are launched for sale upon successful application by a developer, while confirmed list sites are launched according to schedule regardless of demand.

Elaborating on the enlarged 3.98-hectare commercial site in Paya Lebar, MND said yesterday that the site comprises a plot that was on the H1 reserve list and another plot immediately south of Paya Lebar East-West Line MRT Station.

"The two plots of land will be connected via a subterranean space under Sims Avenue. The sale of the larger land parcel provides greater flexibility for building design, layout and placement of uses. It will also facilitate the development of Paya Lebar Central into a commercial node, which is in line with the government's objective of decentralising employment centres and bringing jobs closer to homes," MND said.

The earlier plot has a drain running diagonally across it, severely constraining any potential design scheme. While the additional plot to its north also has a drain running through it, the drain divides the plot into two more regular-shaped rectangular plots, which would allow a developer to put a tower on each half. Market watchers reckon that besides a minimum office component, the enlarged sale site is likely to have retail and residential elements, and possibly hotel uses too.

The enlarged Paya Lebar site can generate about 167,160 square metres (nearly 1.8 million sq ft) gross floor area (GFA), compared with 86,940 sq m for the old plot. This will limit participation at its tender to big players, say market watchers.

With the focus on decentralisation, two sites for office developments in the city - a commercial site on Beach Road and a "white" site in Marina View - will take a "back seat on the reserve list", said JLL national director Ong Teck Hui.

The 2.14-ha Beach Road plot, a new site that includes the former Central Police Station grounds, can generate 89,880 sq m GFA of commercial space.

The Marina View plot, which can produce about 101,400 sq m GFA, has been on the reserve list for more than two years, though MND yesterday announced a new sale condition: banning strata subdivision of office space for the future project on the site.

This is "in line with the vision for quality office developments within Marina Bay, Singapore's key financial and business district", it said.

Over in the Holland Village area, the 2.31-hectare site is estimated to yield about 580 private residences in addition to 13,500 sq m GFA of commercial space. It is being placed on the H2 confirmed list as part of the Holland Village Extension plan unveiled in Master Plan 2014.

"It will provide new housing options within a mixed-use development that is well connected via pedestrian linkages to surrounding transport nodes and public spaces," MND said.

When contacted by The Business Times, URA said an existing car park that will be part of the sale site will be shut by the first half of next year to facilitate development of the sale site.

Future development on the site will provide parking lots to meet the demand in the area. In the meantime, an interim car park will be built to replace the public parking lots affected.