Flexible working models feature in Singapore’s long-term urban development plans: URA

The URA plans for more inclusive housing cities, including a mix of public and private housing in residential developments in Bayshore and the area around the Upper Changi MRT station. (PHOTO: URA Facebook)

SINGAPORE – The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is planning more inclusive housing cities, including a mix of public and private housing in residential developments in Bayshore and Upper Changi, as part of its long-term plan review tracing the Singapore’s developments in the next 50 years and beyond.

A public exhibition for the review of the long-term plan was launched on Monday June 6 after a year-long engagement with 15,000 members of the public to gather Singaporeans’ ideas and feedback on their future urban environment.

“Our planning strategies have also taken into consideration the need to improve the flexibility and optionality of our land use given the increasingly complex and uncertain environment,” National Development Minister Desmond Lee said. . “We also need to find ways to better optimize the use of our limited land to balance more acute trade-offs for various land use needs,” he noted.

As part of the plan, the URA and agencies will explore planning for a wider variety of internal layouts for homes that support changing demographics and lifestyles, as well as unforeseen needs, such as shift to hybrid working patterns that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agencies will also plan more towns and estates with “a good mix of public and private housing.” Bayshore and the area near Upper Changi MRT station will include a mix of public and private areas supported by amenities.

The planned relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base in the 2030s will also free up around 800 ha of land that can be transformed into a next-generation city with housing, jobs and living amenities. One of the proposals from the Institute of Architects Singapore and the Institute of Planners Singapore is to develop a heritage district that retains existing infrastructure, such as the old airport runway, terminal building, bunkers and airport hangars.

As part of its plan to “build more inclusive and cohesive cities”, the URA said it was working with various stakeholders to explore how to utilize underutilized spaces for community use, such as areas under MRT overpasses and highways.

It also intends to design spaces that can accommodate different users throughout the day, such as a daytime co-working space that can be converted to host community events in the evening.

Flexibility

Flexible workspaces also feature in URA’s plan, with the agency exploring a concept of “vertical zoning” in industrial zones that incorporate different but complementary uses within a single development.

Vertical zoning refers to how a single building can separate floors according to their uses, for example, clean industrial activities occupying the lower floors and coworking spaces on the middle floors, which creates a buffer zone for the residences on the upper floors.

The URA is also exploring suitable locations for business white zones in industrial areas to accommodate non-industrial uses, such as coworking spaces, retail and restaurant spaces. Two potential areas are Kolam Ayer and Yishun industrial areas when they are redeveloped.

The government is also looking to make industrial areas healthier and more convenient for workers by having more green spaces, leisure options and active mobility networks.

Given the possibility that flexible working arrangements will become more common, the government plans to introduce some sites with shorter leases so that businesses can adapt to rapidly changing needs.

In an effort to keep Singapore’s future environment distinctive and endearing to its citizens, the URA has developed a Heritage and Identity Structure Plan that maps relevant sites that will be considered as part of future development plans.

In this vein, the URA has also introduced the concept of identity corridors which are corridors defined by distinctive characteristics. Five identity corridors of this type have been identified, including the rail corridor.

The exhibition entitled “Space for our Dreams” is now open to the public at the URA Center Atrium from June 6 to August 4, 2022.

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Michael J. Chiaramonte