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Heng to lead task force probing residents’ complaints on Centrale 8

SINGAPORE — Following a petition signed by owners of more than half of the units at Centrale 8, a taskforce surpervised by Tampines GRC Member of Parliament Heng Swee Keat will be formed to look into the residents’ grouses.

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SINGAPORE — Following a petition signed by owners of more than half of the units at Centrale 8, a taskforce surpervised by Tampines GRC Member of Parliament Heng Swee Keat will be formed to look into the residents’ grouses.

Buyers of almost 400 of the 708 units in the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project had endorsed the petition to extend their year-long warranty. They also want compensation for alleged “inferior quality of materials” used and poor design that compromises their space, safety and privacy.

Tampines Town Council chairman Baey Yam Keng told TODAY that Mr Heng had asked him to reply on his behalf, after residents emailed their petition last Friday (June 19) to the project’s developer, Sim Lian Group, and looped in the Housing and Development Board (HDB), Ministry of National Development and Tampines MPs.

Mr Baey said the task force will be led by senior grassroots leaders, with Mr Heng supervising the team personally. The task force could include representatives from Sim Lian, HDB, the Building and Construction Authority and the town council.

“We want to help residents by bringing the relevant people together so that we can all talk things over together,” he said.

“Once we get the composition settled I think we should have the first meeting as soon as we can, because the residents are anxious.”

Mr Baey added that the outcome “would have to be a balance between the wishes of the residents as well as the contractual obligations of the developers”.

A developer has to rectify any defect in the units within a year after handing over the keys, but residents are worried other defects may surface after that. They are creating a document to highlight issues faced, and will be presenting it to the task force. They hope to have a dialogue by early July.

In 2011, Centrale 8 made the headlines for the wrong reasons after its developer asked for S$880,000 for the five-room units - a record indicative asking price which was on par with the cost of suburban condominium units. This prompted a public outcry which led Sim Lian to slash the asking price to S$778,000. As the controversy brewed, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan weighed in and said that consumers who thought the prices were too high should give the flats a miss. Soon after, the Government announced the DBS scheme was under review and subsequently, the sale of land for DBSS projects was suspended.

According to earlier reports, Centrale 8 homeowners were upset about defects such as faulty locks, cracked tiles and burst water pipes.

But they told TODAY they have bigger issues with the design of their homes and estate. For example, some toilet windows face the common corridor, which means windows cannot be opened. The entrance to the estate as well as the carpark meet at a cross junction, increasing chances of accidents, said residents, who are calling for another entrance and exit to be created.

A resident who wanted to be known as Mr Cher said the main power switch for the aircon compressor is located outside the flat. “If I want to turn it off, I have to climb out onto the (aircon) ledge, which is very dangerous,” he said.

Another resident, Ms Evelyn Soo, 46, found sanitary pipes taking up usable space in the service yard. When she told Sim Lian about it, the developer responded that the location of the pipes was “to meet with (PUB’s) requirement”.

TODAY understands the national water agency sent a strongly-worded email to the developer calling such statements “wrong and misleading” as PUB “does not mandate that sanitary stacks be located at the service courtyard or AC (aircon) ledge of residential units”.

Sim Lian clarified that the sanitary stack pipes located in the service yards of some unit types are there to meet PUB’s technical requirement, which states that the length of a discharge pipe connecting to the discharge stack pipe cannot exceed its maximum length of 2.5m.

The developer also said it is common for architects to place sanitary stack pipes in wet areas including bathrooms, service yards or the aircon ledges of residential units.

Another resident, who declined to be named, cited another “very awkward” design element where his main gate opens from the right, while the main door opens from left. Half of the master bedroom door protrudes into bedroom space when open. “We paid a premium price but we never got the premium value,” he said.

A Sim Lian spokesman confirmed it has received the residents’ petition and “will continue to attend to their concerns on a one-to-one basis”.

The developer said it remains committed to rectifying reported defects in accordance with the Sale and Purchase Agreement and will “also review subsequent requests for rectification works on a case-by-case basis” after the year-long Defects Liability Period expires.

Sim Lian is working with HDB, Tampines Citizens’ Consultative Committee, Tampines Town Council, the People’s Association Residents’ Committee and grassroots representatives to facilitate the process.

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