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Flat-buyers Will See Less Red, More Green, Says Mah

10 Feb 2007 (TODAY)

Leong Wee Keat

THE Housing and Development Board (HDB) is re-examining its Walk-In
Selection (WIS) scheme in light of the long queues that formed recently
for such exercises.

While this will hearten flat-buyers, residents at older estates will also
have something to cheer about. They will find themselves in greener
surroundings as Singapore promotes what National Development Minister Mah
Bow Tan called "Housing in a Park".

Speaking to reporters after a Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) seminar,
Mr Mah touched on the extraordinary queues that formed outside the HDB Hub
in Toa Payoh for the latest WIS exercise last week. Barricades had to be
erected to maintain order, while some wondered if information about the
exercise had leaked out even before the official announcement.

But Mr Mah said that while demand had picked up, the queues were still
deceptive: "A lot of the people in the queue did not want the flats after
they saw them."

Despite long queues, the pick-up rate for this batch - which included
units in 15 mature estates such as Toa Payoh, Marine Parade and Bukit
Merah - was only about 20 per cent.

The WIS exercise will be reviewed, said Mr Mah.

"If these are very popular flats, we will use the balloting system," he
said. "If these are flats that are not so popular, we will continue to use

Earlier, he gave a mid-term review of the URA's Concept Plan - last
reviewed in 2001 - which maps out the vision for land use here over the
next 40 to 50 years.

He revealed that Singapore had revised its long-term population
parameter - which he said is a planning tool and not a target - to 6.5
million, up from the previous figure of 5.5 million.

This means there will be more competition for land use, and housing needs
will have to be addressed.

One of the measures being considered over the next three to five years is
the "Housing in a Park" concept, which will help rejuvenate older HDB

Residents can look forward to lushly-landscaped car-parking podiums that
are integrated with their blocks, allowing them to walk to their cars
without being exposed to the elements.

Environmentally-friendly features installed in flats will help save water
and energy. Residents will also be provided with centralised chutes for
recyclables to make it easy for all to recycle.

"It's not just gardens - it's also revamping the way HDB estates are
built," said Mr Mah.

Also, new growth sectors will require more land. More hotels will be
needed as the number of tourists is expected to double to 17 million by
2015 and more hospitals must come up to cater to foreign patients.

"As cities become more similar in a globalised world, Singapore can stand
out as a liveable and attractive city," he said.

Box this:

-Jurong will be transformed into a business and transportation hub,
serving as an alternative location for businesses to serve the western
part of Singapore.

-Moving beyond the Marina Bay area, there will be commercial developments
at Marina South

To link parks with town centres and create green corridors, the otal
length of park connectorswill be increased from the present 70 km to 200km
by 2012.

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