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Raffles Country Club to make way for KL-Singapore HSR

The club, one of Singapore's oldest that opened in 1988, will need to hand the site over to the SLA by July 31, 2018 — 10 years before its 30-year lease is due to expire (on Oct 31, 2028).

Raffles Country Club to make way for KL-Singapore HSR

Raffles Country Club. Photo: Jason Quah

SINGAPORE — Raffles Country Club (RCC) has become the second club here to have to make way for facilities for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR), with the site to also be home to the future Cross Island Line’s (CRL) western depot.

The club, which opened in 1988 and is one of Singapore’s oldest, will have to hand over the site to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) by July 31, 2018 — 10 years before its 30-year lease is due to expire on Oct 31, 2028.

The authorities will then proceed to carry out engineering studies at the 143ha site, and construction will start after the results are out.
The club follows in the footsteps of Jurong Country Club, which had to give up its land for the HSR terminus and ended operations last year. The HSR will take travellers from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 90 minutes, with operations targeted to begin by Dec 31, 2026.  

RCC is located in Tuas, and bordered by Tengeh Reservoir and Ayer Rajah Expressway. More than two times the size of the Jurong Country Club site, it was deemed most suitable to run HSR tracks at ground level before it goes underground towards the Jurong East Terminus, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said in a media briefing on Wednesday (Jan 4).

Facilities for the HSR that will be at the site will include crossover tracks and a siding facility to temporarily house trains for safety or operational reasons. For the CRL’s depot, it will include stabling and maintenance facilities, and possibly train testing facilities.

On the site, Mr Chua Chong Kheng, Deputy Chief Executive, Infrastructure & Development, LTA, said: “This, we feel, is the optimum site in terms of location, the size, and orientation. There are not a lot of options where we can actually site, without having to make a lot of land acquisition.”

LTA CEO Ngien Hoon Ping added that the other “very important consideration” was to minimise the land intake and disruption as much as possible.

Asked if the LTA was considering other sites for the CRL’s western depot, the LTA said the RCC site was identified because of technical and operational considerations, including the size of the depot and its proximity to the main line, “which will minimise dead mileage when the train is travelling between the main line and the depot”.

Compensation to the club will be based on market value for the acquired land as at acquisition date, which was yesterday. RCC will also have to submit its claims, including the valuation of the club and land. There is also the option for RCC to appeal, if it does not accept the awarded amount, said Mr Tan Boon Khai, SLA chief executive.

The announcement came after Malaysia last week said that it is likely to acquire land, mostly from plantation owners, for the HSR by the third quarter of this year.

The LTA said major construction and systems tenders for the HSR will be called later this year, followed by site investigation and construction works next year.

Responding to the announcement, RCC president Paul Singh said: “Coming from the perspective of members and all of us, we are deeply disappointed to hear the news. I think we will work with the authorities to make sure that (everything is dealt with) fairly, and if there is any compensation …  then we will deal with them, moving forward.”

On whether more clubs in Singapore are at risk of being acquired, the SLA’s Mr Tan said that the Government does not target golf clubs in particular.

“Golf clubs do take up substantial space in Singapore. We have over the last couple of years also reviewed the expiry (dates) of golf clubs..there may be a few expiry (dates) coming up, and that will be dependent on the development plans of Singapore as a whole. But..we do not target golf clubs for acquisition.”

In 2014, the Government unveiled plans to reduce for golfing here that shortened leases for some golf clubs here. 

Of the nine clubs with land leases expiring in the next 10 years, Keppel Club and Marina Bay Golf Course will not have their leases extended after 2021, while Singapore Island Country Club, Tanah Merah Country Club, and the National Service Resort and Country Club are getting lease extensions, but will have to give up some land.

This trend of acquiring clubs may continue, depending on Singapore’s needs, say property analysts.

Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, said: “If we want to expand the population, then we need more land for amenities. So either we keep the population at a constant rate, or we expand, and people who want to play golf can travel to JB (Johor Baru).”

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