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Problems at ‘worn down’ Pearl Bank Apartments cause conflicts among neighbours

In reference to the report, “En-bloc sales ‘fracture’ communities” (Feb 10), I disagree with architect Tan Cheng Siong’s point that en-bloc sales are “profit-driven”.

Doing repair or renovation work may make the building look good, but the inherent problem caused by its design stays for as long as the lease holds. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

Doing repair or renovation work may make the building look good, but the inherent problem caused by its design stays for as long as the lease holds. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

Henry Wong

In reference to the report, “En-bloc sales ‘fracture’ communities” (Feb 10), I disagree with architect Tan Cheng Siong’s point that en-bloc sales are “profit-driven”.

One thing many people are not aware of is that the Pearl Bank Apartments that Mr Tan designed ended up creating problems for owners down the years.

I am a resident there and the configuration of each unit is so intertwined with the units above, below and on the same floor that whenever a pipe leakage problem arises, each household will blame the other for the problem, creating conflict and poor neighbourliness.

Due to its age, the maintenance costs for the building is very enormous — thousands of dollars per unit — so that many of the residents just cannot afford to pay. So the way out is to sell it.

Why conserve a building when it has become so worn down? Doing repair or renovation work may make the building look good, but the inherent problem caused by its design stays for as long as the lease holds.

Mr Tan mentioned the conservation project three years ago that garnered 92 per cent of support, showing that residents were for conservation.

I also signed to back the project then, but it was not so much for conservation but for the fact that whoever wanted to build the extra area has to top up our lease and pay for all the major maintenance and upgrading of the facade. There was just no other alternative then, after three failed attempts at a collective sale.

Mr Tan also mentioned in another interview with The Straits Times that he designed the corridors of Pearl Bank Apartments for better social interaction, but that is not happening at all. It became a place for people to smoke and talk loudly, disturbing their neighbours.

To sum up, one has to accept that more than 80 per cent of the residents have spoken this time and they want the en-bloc sale to happen.

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