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Govt re-looking at land use in view of change in projected long-term growth

By Johnson Choo, Channel NewsAsia
09 February 2007 2228 hrs

SINGAPORE: The government is re-looking at how best to use Singapore's limited land space in view of the changing economic environment and projected long-term growth.

This is the first time it is conducting a mid-term review of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's 10-year Concept Plan, which was last reviewed in 2001.

Key changes include planning for a population of 6.5 million over the next 40 to 50 years, an increase of one million from the current figure.

The government says it is planning ahead to ensure there is sufficient land and infrastructure to attract investments and support economic growth.

The comprehensive review takes into account opportunities in high value-added industries, financial and business services sectors, and the tourism sector.

These will help propel Singapore's growth into the future.

One major consideration is the provision of affordable, quality public housing without using up too much land, even as the population increases.

Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, said: "Within the next 10 years, more of our flats will be 40 to 50 years old. This provides us with an excellent opportunity to explore new ideas for our next generation of public housing that will bring HDB living to a higher plane. In this way we will not only optimise land use, but we also incorporate features that will enhance the residents' living experience."

HDB is also exploring the concept of "Housing in a Park" to complement Singapore's vision of a "City in a Garden."

In future, flats will feature barrier-free facilities and universal designs, and residents may get to collectively decide on communal facilities.

Rail and bus transport will also be enhanced to integrate residential and commercial areas seamlessly.

Mr Mah said: "For a start, the Rapid Transit System (RTS) network will have to be expanded, with more rail lines added to new areas, thereby enhancing accessibility and reducing travel times. The integration between rail and bus services will also be improved for more seamless connectivity."

And there will be a comprehensive pedestrian walkway network, which will extend to park connectors.

Mr Mah said: "Today what we have is about 70 kilometres of park connectors. We aim to increase it to about 200 kilometres by 2012 and eventually almost 400 kilometres. And by having park connectors linking up all the parks with town centres, with sports complexes, and with homes, you can cycle, you can jog, you can simply just enjoy the greenery through this inter-connectivity."

Together with the recently launched "Active, Beautiful and Clean Waters" programme, and URA's conservation efforts, the government hopes to create a distinct city - one that's both interesting and fun to live and play in.

More details of the individual projects will be released by the various agencies at a later date. - CNA/ir

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