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Have more HDB flats in downtown S’pore

I refer to the report, “Community spirit, green living at heart of URA plan for S’pore” (Nov 20).

Chong Lee Ming

I refer to the report, “Community spirit, green living at heart of URA plan for S’pore” (Nov 20).

Based on current market prices, a home in the three new residential districts and the Greater Southern Waterfront, unveiled in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s draft Master Plan, would cost around S$1.5 million to S$2 million if equivalent to the size of a four-room Housing and Development Board flat. This is out of the reach of most Singaporeans, and those who can afford such prices may prefer to live in bigger units elsewhere. A possible result is that local or foreign investors might buy homes in these areas and rent them to foreigners.

Few Singaporeans would then experience the new urban-living concepts. For more Singaporeans to benefit from the downtown rejuvenation plans and have opportunities to live downtown or nearby, the URA should set aside land in all these districts for public housing.

Some may argue that this would not provide maximum return from the state’s limited land resources, or even liken it to a raid on national reserves. However, would the urban heart of Singapore have a Singaporean soul if Singaporeans do not live there?

Others may argue that this would allow a small group to profiteer from public housing, as those lucky enough to obtain a unit in these districts would likely be able to sell it for a handsome profit after the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

These equity issues, though, could be addressed through administrative restrictions like higher parking charges, tighter rental restrictions, a longer MOP or a sales tax. This would ensure that only those who wish genuinely to participate in the URA’s green-living concept would buy a property in these districts, and that Singaporeans have a stake in the urban heart of Singapore.

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