SINGAPORE — From Jan 17 next year, the maximum number of units allowed in new private housing projects in the heartlands will be reduced — effectively deterring developers from building an excessive number of shoebox units.
Under new guidelines announced by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Wed (Oct 17), several new areas — including Marine Parade, Balestier and Loyang — will also be subject to more stringent requirements due to the severe strain which the “cumulative effect of new developments” could pose on local infrastructure.
URA first unveiled the guidelines in 2012 to “moderate the excessive development of shoebox units”. The tightening comes as the authorities observed shrinking dwelling unit sizes in new private housing projects. Ms Goh Chin Chin, Group Director for Development Control at URA, said that the revised guidelines will help to manage potential strains on local infrastructure and safeguard the liveability of residential estates. "This will also encourage developers to provide a more balanced mix of unit sizes to cater to the diverse needs of homebuyers, including large families," added Ms Goh.
URA currently sets the maximum permissible number of housing units for a development outside the central area by dividing the development's proposed building gross floor area by 70 sq m. Under the new guidelines, it will be divided by 85 sq m, and 100 sq m for a total of nine areas.
These areas are Marine Parade, Joo Chiat-Mountbatten, Telok Kurau-Jalan Euno, Balestier, Stevens-Chancery, Pasir Panjang, Kovan-How Sun, Shelford and Loyang. Currently, only four areas — Telok Kurau, Kovan, Joo Chiat and Jalan Eunos — are subject to stricter guidelines.
Mixed-use developments will also have to comply with the rules. Developers are encouraged to vary the sizes of the housing units that they propose in a development to cater to the diverse needs of the market, URA had previously said.
In 2012, then-National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan cited the example of the Telok Kurau area which had experienced “a rampant development of tiny shoebox units... resulting in disamenities such as severe traffic congestion, shortage of car parks and double-parking”.
“After consulting with the stakeholders, URA decided to move in, but in a judicious way, without over-regulating or stifling the creativity of developers,” Mr Khaw said.
URA said that since 2012, it has continued to monitor the distribution of unit sizes in each development to cater to different needs, as well as the number of new developments in certain areas which can cause considerable strain on local infrastructure.
While the formula sets the limit on the number of dwelling units, the actual number that can be supported in any development will be assessed based on the site context, existing site conditions, and the impact on the local infrastructure, URA reiterated. It will also assess the “overall layout, design and unit sizes of the development proposals, and may add other requirements where necessary to protect the quality of the living environment”.
NEW LIMIT ON BALCONY SIZE
Separately, to address public feedback that some balconies are “oversized”, URA also announced on Wednesday new guidelines to limit the sizes of balconies, private enclosed spaces and private roof terraces in private non-landed residential developments. These will also take effect from Jan 17 next year.
"We have also received feedback from homebuyers who prefer units without balconies that it is challenging to find such units in the market, especially in new developments," URA said.
The bonus gross floor area for private outdoor spaces in residential developments will be reduced from 10 per cent to 7 per cent, while the total balcony area for each unit will be capped at 15 per cent of the nett internal area. Developers will be required to inform homebuyers of the allowable balcony screens at the point of purchase, URA added.
URA also rolled out a new scheme — which takes effect immediately — to encourage developers to build more indoor recreation spaces such as gyms, function rooms, libraries, game rooms and reading rooms. The Bonus Gross Floor Area scheme provides bonus gross floor area capped at 1 per cent of the total area. This extra gross floor area is on top of what the developer is allowed to build on the site.