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Creative and innovative solutions will prevent overcrowding: Grace Fu

By Farah Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia
10 February 2007 2226 hrs

Overcrowding can be prevented with creative and innovative approaches to land use in Singapore to cope with a much larger population of some 6.5 million people over the next few decades.

This was the reassurance given by Minister of State for National Development, Grace Fu, who spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a community forum on Saturday.

Residents at the second forum on HDB heartware have suggested setting up Community Clubs in shopping centres and merging such clubs with sports complexes to bring in more people.

But others also expressed their concerns about the Urban Redevelopment Authority's revised concept plan which aims to cater for a population of 6.5 million people in Singapore soon.

Deen Bandhu, Bishan Resident, said: "If they want to accommodate the balance 2 million, I would say what area will that be and again where will these people be working? Accommodation is one thing, and working area - so all these the government has to plan before it tries to bring in this extra people."

Yusman Jamil, Sembawang Resident, said: "They can rebuild old estates, build higher - accommodate more people. Last time the highest is only 14 storeys - maybe they can go 30 to 40 storeys, maybe more people can go in."

The Minister of State for National Development had this assurance.

Ms Fu said: "When we talked about having regional centres that's precisely a way to distribute commercial activities into the non-traditional areas, so that we reduce the need in a way for cross-town travelling. There's so much travelling from all over Singapore into the city that it's really stressing the public transportation system when we talk about a bigger population.

"So what we are doing is to distribute it to reduce the demand on the whole. It is through careful consideration of factors like this and to do it early so it does not become a problem and we have time to make allowances for issues like this."

The Urban Redevelopment Authority is also looking at creative ways to use the current space that Singapore has while acknowledging that land space is limited here.

So alternatives are being explored including tapping the space below MRT stations and viaducts to turn them into recreational facilities for Singaporeans.

Grace Fu said: "We can go down, and we can go up - for example, siting some of our facilities further deep down, freeing up the land for us for living - that's really a way for us, allow us to grow comfortably as a nation.

"These initiatives will bring a lot of green into our urban area and we are also studying other ways to allow environmentally friendly facilities and installations to come in for example the use of natural wind ventilation, how do we reduce urban heat when we have a higher built up area - at this point in time to really cater for a larger population."

A multi-agency taskforce is working out the details and more information will be released later this year. - CNA/ch

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