Nov 21, 2013

    In future: Office in your backyard

    JOBS will get closer to home, as the Government continues to push the development of regional nodes outside the city in its latest urban masterplan.

    This will help reduce congestion in the central commercial areas, said property consultants. And, with workplaces being closer to home, travel times and distances will also be reduced.

    Future residential developments in Holland Village, Marina South and Tampines North, which were spelt out in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA's) Draft Master Plan 2013 yesterday, also showed how homes will be situated close to these commercial nodes, the experts said.

    In its plan to guide Singapore's land use in the next 10 to 15 years, URA said that regional commercial hubs like Jurong Lake District, Tampines Regional Centre, Paya Lebar Central and one-north will be further developed.

    URA said that office, retail and entertainment amenities will be expanded in these areas, increasing what it calls "live-work-play" options for residents.

    Over in the north, there will be over 100ha of land available for expansion in Woodlands Regional Centre, which will be developed in the next 10 to 15 years to create a vibrant live-work-play environment.

    When fully developed, the regional centre will provide around 100,000 new jobs, URA said.

    The growth of industrial hubs and business parks, such as in Jurong West and Seletar, will also create new jobs for residents.

    Mr William Lau, president of the Singapore Institute of Planners, said that in every part of the world, cities are the most "desired epicentre", and it is always a challenge to woo people to regional areas.

    By decentralising commercial activities, the Government is trying to "pull the 'energy' out of the city and relieve congestion", Mr Lau said.

    Ms Alice Tan, head of research at Knight Frank Singapore, said that, besides optimising usage of the island's scarce land resources, decentralisation helps to provide greater commuting convenience by spreading out the traffic flow from the central area.

    PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said: "Integrating more commercial clusters and industrial parks in different regions of the island will improve (people's) work-life balance by having opportunities to work near their homes."

    Ms Tan said that the new residential developments highlighted in the masterplan are meant to support the growth of these commercial nodes.

    For example, the 1,500 new homes in an extension of Holland Village will help meet the "upcoming demand as the nearby one-north business-park precinct is fully completed in about 10 to 15 years' time", she said.

    Similarly, the new Tampines North estate, which is expected to yield 21,000 homes - about 80 per cent of them public - will provide housing options for workers in the Tampines Regional Centre and elsewhere in the east, as well as cater to future population growth.

    Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director at SLP International, said that the 9,000 new homes planned for Marina South will likely cater to those working in the financial district.

    Mr Lau said urban cities such as Singapore consume a lot of energy. "We criss-cross the country, between our workplaces and homes. Ideally, you should be able to work, live and play in the same neighbourhood," he added.

    Mr Ismail said: "The latest masterplan (marks) a paradigm shift in the land use of Singapore, with a focus now on the integration of people, lifestyles and work."