Planning strategies to boost residents’ well-being

SINGAPORE — How residents move around in their neighbourhoods could soon have a big say in how town planners add or tweak features to the area.

Using data captured by motion sensors on smart lighting, for example, the decision could be made to have. Wi-Fi at void decks for residents to study. Or perhaps, identify under-utilised spaces so planners can rope in residents to re-design them.

Tapping data to uncover emerging lifestyle trends in an area is one of the ways the Housing and Development Board (HDB) is looking to take its town planning and design standards to the next level, through a S$6 million social behavioural study with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The collaboration is one of two the HDB inked on Thursday  at the start of the two-day International Housing Forum held at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh. The other is a S$4.7 million agreement with the Nanyang Technological University to improve productivity in the construction process for HDB flats through the use of smart technology.

The HDB-SUTD study, which will take three years, aims to come up with a new framework, dubbed New Urban Kampung, that can predict how the demographics in towns are likely to evolve, as well as forecast how residents would respond to features introduced in their midst.

The HDB said the study will try to dive deeper into the composition of residents in a town — beyond traditional statistics such as age, race, and income — to pick out how they like to spend their time and what they like in an area.

Harnessing big data, gathered through sensor networks placed around the estate to track human traffic and movement, among others, the HDB can come up with “more targeted and customised improvements”, the agency said. Big data could also be used to examine the impact of a precinct’s design on residents’ interaction and behaviour, the HDB added.

It cited the addition of Wi-Fi to void decks as an example, given that residents are more digitally connected now. With such features, residents could use communal spaces more, and create a sense of belonging in their estate. Or if a space is found to be under-used, it can be flagged, so planners can figure out why this is so and tweak things to cater to the preferences of that community. This would go one step beyond the provision of typical communal spaces such as gardens, playgrounds and fitness corners, the HDB said.

The data collected could be used to run simulations in advanced modelling tools to predict receptiveness levels to certain new initiatives before they are rolled out.

Such data could also help identify common interests that residents of an area have.

If a particular estate is especially fond of, say, cycling, customised apps could be introduced for residents to come together and form a cycling community.

As part of developing the new framework for town planning and design, the HDB is also looking into coming up with new indicators to measure quality of life. It noted that as socio-demographic makeup of HDB towns evolves, traditional indicators such as healthcare, sanitation and safety, among others, may not adequately reflect what residents need anymore.

The HDB and SUTD will carry out research on indicators related to the material conditions and resources within a neighbourhood, such as whether the environs are too hot, how accessible amenities are, and greenery in the surroundings.

They will also look at psychosocial factors, including whether residents are cohesive, or feel a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood. “This will help guide future design and planning strategies to boost residents’ well-being,” the HDB said.


Resale prices of flats edged up

Resale prices of Housing Board (HDB) flats edged up 0.1 per cent last month, reversing the 0.1 per cent dip recorded in November, according to flash estimates from SRX Property on Thursday.

There was also a near 20 per cent drop in flats changing hands: 1,585 resale units were sold in December, 19.9 per cent fewer than in November. The drop, while in line with the property market’s quieter year end, was bigger than December 2016’s 14 per cent month-on-month sales decline, according to SRX figures. Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Year-on-year, the number of HDB resales last month was 13.9 per cent higher than the 1,391 units sold in December 2016. But resale volume is down by 56.6 per cent compared to its peak of 3,649 units in May 2010.

With its latest monthly figures, SRX’s full-year HDB resale price index is down 1.8 per cent, close to the 1.5 per cent full-year decline shown in HDB’s official flash estimates released on Tuesday.

ccording to the HDB flash data, resale prices dipped 0.2 per cent in the final three months of 2017, while SRX’s prelinary estimates show a 0.3 per cent slip.


Punggol Digital District to create 28,000 jobs

SINGAPORE: The opening of a new business and education hub in Punggol from 2023 will create 28,000 jobs in fields such as cybersecurity and data analytics, creating job opportunities “close to home”.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said this at the launch of an exhibition for members of the public to view the Punggol Digital District’s masterplan on Sunday (Jan 21). He said the District will support government efforts to build a Smart Nation, where technologies can be deployed to prepare workers for the digital economy.

The Punggol Digital District, which will incorporate a business park, the Singapore Institute of Technology’s new campus as well as community facilities, will foster innovation and collaboration, said planners who shared more details on the District. Upcoming nearby executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature at Yishun, Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The 50-hectare development was first announced as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Draft Master Plan in 2013, while more details were shared by Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong last year.

JTC’s Assistant CEO David Tan said the district’s planning marks the first time all agencies involved came together at the start to develop an integrated plan.

“All the facilities and infrastructure were planned from the start, and that also optimises the use of land, energy, water and other resources,” Mr Tan said.


The area, currently a vacant plot of land north of Punggol and west of Coney Island, will also be the first in Singapore developed as an “enterprise” district. JTC, the district’s master developer, said this will allow planners flexibility in land use mix.

“So for example, SIT’s land is zoned for education, whereas JTC’s business park is zoned as a business park. (But) because of this so-called ‘enterprise’ district, we can actually mix the uses together,” Mr Tan said.

“So some of the education space can be within JTC’s facilities, and some of JTC’s business park can be part of SIT’s land. So for example, SIT’s research labs and learning facilities can be located within JTC’s buildings, and similarly, JTC’s labs, startup spaces can be located there.”

He said the exchange of spaces will allow companies to collaborate with the university, and foster open innovation and the sharing of ideas.

Speaking at the launch of the masterplan, DPM Teo said that the relocation of the national Cyber Security Agency to the Punggol Digital District is being studied.

“This will help seed a new cluster of cybersecurity and technology firms in Punggol. Our residents can look forward to many exciting jobs close to home and gain new skills in these growth areas,” Mr Teo said.


Mr Tan said construction of the business park buildings will begin this year, and once ready from 2023 onwards, they will be home to companies in sectors that Singapore has identified as growth areas, including cybersecurity and Internet of Things.

Assistant Chief Executive of the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) Angeline Poh said the companies that set up shop in the business park could be those that are not just technology-driven, but those that have technology elements at the heart of its service.

The park will not just house multinational companies (MNCs) from these growth sectors, but also small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups, allowing for opportunities for collaboration among them.


DPM Teo said the digital district will provide more learning opportunities with the new centralised campus for the Singapore Institute of Technology. SIT will support skills upgrading and continuing education with its suite of applied courses.

“There will be many opportunities for students and teaching staff from SIT and industry practitioners in the Digital District to interact and exchange ideas, and use the Digital District and Punggol as a test-bed for new technologies,” he said.

“For instance, incorporating video analytics and facial recognition to enhance security, and developing smart energy management systems for buildings and homes to conserve energy. With closer collaboration between academia and industry, we can develop many new products and services for the Digital Economy.”

SIT President Prof Tan Thiam Soon said the university can be a living lab for companies.

As an example, Prof Tan said SIT signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with grid operator SP Group in October last year to build a micro-grid at the Punggol campus.

It will operate independently from the national grid, but excess energy can also be pushed into the main grid to support the district “in times of need”, Prof Tan said. In turn, it also allows SP Group to test the micro-grid in a “real operating environment”.

“(In the same way), I think the whole idea is we open up, and it doesn’t even need to be all local companies,” Prof Tan said.

“I think some of the companies from overseas, if they need a place to test, we will be saying, come and test. Use our students, use our professors, we will be the place for you to test this new technology.”


Planning agencies said a key feature of the district will be the incorporation of artificial intelligence and Internet-of-Things in the facilities within the district. For example, they said all the systems within the district will be centrally and remotely monitored, analysed and controlled at its integrated facilities management location.

It will also have an automated waste collection centre, a district cooling system that supplies chilled water to the various buildings for their air-conditioning, as well as a large underground car-park.

Another interesting feature being explored is a centralised logistics hub. Mr Tan said this will be the first stop for all goods delivered to the district.

“From here, they will be taken to the various tenants’ properties either by automated guided vehicles or drones,” he said.

The District will have amenities such as a hawker centre, childcare centres and a community club. It will be connected to residential estates in the area.

“The Digital District will also fit in well with the natural environment that our residents love. Our residents can enjoy the green surroundings, and a new park, Campus Heart. A new pedestrian street along the Campus Boulevard will link various parts of the Digital District to the waterfront area,” DPM Teo said.

The existing Punggol Road will be retained and transformed into a 1.3km heritage trail that will connect Punggol District with Punggol Waterway and an upcoming residential district at Punggol Point.

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Home prices to reach inflection point by 2018?

SINGAPORE — The private housing recovery found a stronger foothold in May, as the resale volume jumped 17.4 per cent from the previous month and prices resumed their upward climb.

The latest flash estimates by SRX Property released yesterday for private non-landed resale transactions showed that the resale volume last month amounted to an estimated 1,235 units, up from the 1,052 units resold in April. Year-on-year, resale volume was 57.7 per cent higher than the 783 units resold in May last year. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Meanwhile, private non-landed residential resale prices increased 0.4 per cent last month from April, when prices registered a slight 0.2 per cent decline after a five-month rising streak. Transactions in both the Core Central Region and Rest of Central Region both reflected price gains of 1.1 per cent in May but these were partially offset by the 0.4 per cent price decline in the Outside Central Region. Year-on-year, overall non-landed private residential resale prices were up 1.5 per cent in May. Year-to-date, they had risen by 2.1 per cent in May.

The improving sentiment in the resale market mirrored that seen in the new home sales market, where the total number of units sold in the first four months of the year exceeded 50 per cent of last year’s full-year volume. From January to April, developers sold 4,696 homes, well over half of the 8,364 units in the whole of last year amid rising expectations that the housing market is bottoming out.

Analysts pointed to the easing of property market cooling measures in March as the key factor boosting sentiment. Homeowners now only have to wait three years instead of four before selling their properties to avoid paying the Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD), and the rate has been reduced by four percentage points for each tier to 12 per cent (sold within first year), 8 per cent (more than one year and up to two years) and 4 per cent (more than two years and up to three years).

The Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework has also been eased, with the 60-per-cent threshold no longer applicable to mortgage equity withdrawal loans with loan-to-value ratios of 50 per cent and below.

In a research note on the Singapore residential sector last week, OCBC Investment Research analyst Eli Lee said: “Buyer sentiments appear to have improved after the latest tweaks to the property curbs in March where some measures relating to the SSD and the TDSR were relaxed. We believe these changes were, on a net basis, supportive of the physical market and continue to forecast for home prices to reach an inflection point by 2018.”

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Another freehold property to be launched for collective sale

SINGAPORE – City Towers, a freehold property along Bukit Timah Road, will be launched for collective sale at an owners’ reserve price of S$355 million.

This represents the owners’ fourth attempt at a collective sale.

Marketing agent for the collective sale, Colliers International Group Inc, in a statement on Wednesday (Jan 3), added that the reserve price includes a development charge of S$3.505 million to intensify land use. This works out to a land rate of S$1,633 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), which compares favourably to the S$1,840 psf ppr achieved for the collective sale of nearby Crystal Tower in December, the agent said. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Tang Wei Leng, Colliers International’s managing director, said: “We think the high-end private residential market is poised for recovery after prices fell by about 20 per cent since June 2013. City Towers presents a good opportunity for developers to add a plum District 10 site to their portfolio in preparation for the potential pick-up in prime home prices in the coming years.”

The freehold development, which was completed in the 1960s, comprises 77 units of apartments and maisonettes, a penthouse unit and a shop unit. Depending on the size of their property, each residential owner stands to receive S$2.45 million to S$10.17 million from the successful sale of the development. The amount is more than double the open market value of the individual units, Colliers said.

M Singh, chairman of the City Towers collective sale committee, said: “Within three short months, we were able to garner more than 80 per cent approval from owners to launch the tender. We have seen good collaborative spirit among the owners and this is largely due to the transparent and structured manner which Colliers ran the collective sale process.”

The 17-storey City Towers sits on a regular land plot that spans 9,711.3 sq m (about 104,531 sq ft) with a 65m frontage to Bukit Timah Road. It is zoned “Residential” and has a gross plot ratio of 2.1 under the Master Plan 2014.

Subject to relevant approvals from the authorities, the site can potentially be redeveloped to a 24-storey apartment block offering about 190 new homes – at an average size of 1,098 sq ft – on the proposed total Gross Floor Area of 20,393.7 sq m (about 219,516 sq ft).

Ms Tang said: “The upscale Bukit Timah area, which is a stone’s throw from Orchard Road, has seen several collective sales recently, including Crystal Tower and Royalville. The City Towers location is also near a cluster of distinguished schools steeped in history which will appeal to future homebuyers with school-going children.”

City Towers is near Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), Singapore Chinese Girls’ School and St Joseph’s Institution. Amenities within the property’s vicinity including restaurants at Balmoral Plaza are also within easy reach.

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Substantial gains likely from the sale?

The 12 owners of the Dunearn Court condominium have put the property on the market for $38.8 million, with substantial gains likely from the sale.

The tender comes hot on the heels of a slew of collective sale deals sealed in recent months amid rising optimism in the private residential market. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The asking price works out to a land rate of about $1,443 per square foot (psf) per plot ratio, said marketing agent Knight Frank, adding that no differential premium is payable.

Dunearn Court, in Dunearn Road in prime District 11, has a site area of 1,784 sq m (19,203 sq ft) and comprises just 12 apartments.

Knight Frank told The Straits Times last week that each owner stands to receive “in excess of $3 million” from the sale, depending on the size of their apartments, which range from 1,356 sq ft to 1,561 sq ft.

The price would be around 75 per cent above the open market value if the owners were to sell their units individually, it added.

The large premium stems from the fact that Dunearn Court – built in 1993 – is a walk-up block with no condo facilities and the units fetch lower prices on the open market.

The site has a gross plot ratio of 1.4 and is zoned for residential use.

“Redevelopment sites are at present highly sought after, particularly boutique redevelopment sites with gross development value of below $100 million,” said Mr Ian Loh, head of investment and capital markets at Knight Frank.

The eventual buyer could configure the maximum permissible gross floor area of about 26,884 sq ft into 32 apartments with an average size of 753 sq ft, Mr Loh added.

Amenities nearby include Nanyang Primary School, Nanyang Girls’ High School, Hwa Chong Institution and National Junior College.

The site is about 500m from the Tan Kah Kee MRT and Botanic Gardens MRT stations.

Knight Frank closed two collective sale deals this year: Rio Casa, which was sold to Oxley-Lian Beng Venture for $575 million, and One Tree Hill Gardens to Lum Chang Holdings for $65 million.

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Creating a car-lite and commuter-centric district

SINGAPORE –  From having pockets of green space and a new water channel to rolling out various car-lite initiatives, these are some of the master-plan proposals for the Jurong Lake District.

The developments in the district, slated to be the Republic’s second central business district, are expected to be completed after 2040. This will benefit nearby EC residents such as those from Inz Residence EC. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Features of the draft master plan can now be seen at a public exhibition being held at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Centre Atrium till the end of this month.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who launched the exhibition on Friday, said the Jurong Lake District is a major project in Singapore’s new phase of infrastructure development.

“Here, we are not just building another ordinary district. We are aiming to create a better, smarter and more sustainable centre for businesses, which will provide more jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans,” he said.

With the developments in the Jurong Lake District taking between 15 and 20 years or longer, the URA aims to create 100,000 jobs and add 20,000 new homes.

The developments will begin around the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) terminus area, which will be also located within the lake district.

In his speech, Mr Wong said that the Government is studying the possibility of putting out land parcels for sale within the next few years, which will create a critical mass of developments once the HSR terminus begin operations by end-2026.

The blueprint for the Jurong Lake District was first unveiled in the 2008 URA Master Plan. It is set to be a new growth area with two precincts – the commercial hub at Jurong Gateway, and leisure and recreational activities at Lakeside.

One of the key strategies of the new area is to make it a car-lite and commuter-centric one, where public transport will be seamlessly connected. For example, in public transit areas, only buses are allowed on the road. Residents will also have access to the new Jurong Region Line and the Cross Island Line, apart from the existing North-South and East-West MRT lines.

With a target of more than 80 per cent for public transport mode share in the district, roads will be prioritised for public transport, with more space for pedestrians, cyclists and personal mobility device users.

The introduction of a new water channel by the eastern shores of the Jurong Lake will create another island, increasing the total length of waterfront space to 17km. This will provide more space for social and community activities, as well as spaces for recreation, retail and food and beverage.

There will also be a new road to the Ayer Rajah Expressway, which will be used as an alternative route to divert traffic away from roads such as Jurong Town Hall Road.

To cater to the changing needs of developers, businesses, and workers, a regular grid structure for land parcels has been adopted for the district. This means that land parcels have to be adjusted through sub-division or amalgamation, and allows for flexibility to provide large land parcels for larger floor plates, or provide smaller parcels to meet evolving business needs. The bulk of the mixed-use business area will be zoned “white” to allow for flexiblity in uses.

Landlords can either combine or co-locate non-traditional uses, such as schools, community facilities, hotels and event spaces for  companies and universities to meet and showcase their prototypes, to accommodate the needs of tenants and the market,  the URA said.

Sixteen hectares of new parks and opens spaces will also be added in the district. They include the Central Park above the HSR terminus and the area around the former Jurong Hall. A green connector loop may be used for various sports and recreational activities.

Together with the 90-hectare Jurong Lake Gardens, there will be over 100 ha  of extensive greenery and open spaces in the district.

The Jurong Lake Gardens West, which started its development last year, is scheduled to be completed next year.

The Jurong Lake Gardens Central, where the existing Chinese and Japanese Gardens are located, will feature tropical horticultural gardens within a rustic setting. It will be completed in stages from 2020.

The seven-storey pagoda will be retained and there are plans to create spaces near it for park users to rest and enjoy nature.

Meanwhile, the existing science centre building and the Jurong Town Hall building could also be repurposed with new uses.

All new developments within the district will also feature sky-rise greenery that will form a “green carpet” in the sky.

As the Jurong Lake District will be one of the most sustainable districts, all new buildings will be required to achieve a Green Mark rating to reduce energy consumption by up to 30 per cent.

Integrated urban systems will also be implemented in the district to tap the area around the future HSR terminus. They include common services tunnel, district cooling system, pneumatic waste system and urban logistics management system.

These urban systems will be placed undergrounds wherever possible, to free up above-ground space for people-centric uses, such as homes, offices, parks, and other community facilities.