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    Jul 03, 2015

    From road to community space, with URA's help

    HELPING residents and businesses turn streets into pedestrian havens is the aim of a new Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) programme launched yesterday.

    Streets for People supports proposals to turn streets and back lanes into community spaces, by temporarily closing them to traffic.

    Help will include arranging consultations with government agencies, supplying road closure items such as safety barriers, and providing up to $5,000 in funding.

    The scheme also offers PubliCity Pop-up Programmes, such as Pop-up Parks consisting of artificial turf, tables and chairs.

    Applicants must reside in the area or operate a business there, and must show that their plans are supported by the community.

    "We want to see more streets being turned into public spaces for the community to enjoy," said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a blog post yesterday.

    Circular Road, Haji Lane and Ann Siang Hill have already been turned into car-free zones on weekends and have been "a great success", he added. Pilot projects there began in 2013 with URA's support.

    "We hope Streets for People will make it easier for others who want to bring the same success to their neighbourhood," said URA chief executive Ng Lang.

    Darius Goh, marketing and communications manager of Singapore River One, which manages Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, said Circular Road's experience shows that official support with traffic enforcement can help.

    "In the initial stages, one of the biggest issues was getting parked cars out of the area," he said.

    The group currently has no plans to pedestrianise other roads in Boat Quay.

    One area that might gain from going pedestrians-only is Keong Saik Road, near Chinatown, home to many hip eateries. Carmen Low, who co-founded raw food cafe Afterglow, said business owners there have had informal talks on the idea.

    "If the Government can support us with licence clearances and so on, it would definitely make things easier," she said.