The URA Master Plan and Why You Need to Use it
What is it?
Every 5 years the urban redevelopment authority, or URA, set out their master plan on the way they want land development in Singapore to progress over the next 10 to 15 years. It takes the broader, longer term strategies as detailed in the Concept Plan, and gives the details on how these should be carried out. It is the overriding document that drives all land and property development in Singapore, and shows the permissible land use and density for developments on the island.
Developed in 1974, to address concerns caused by the Singapore’s small size, it is an attempt to optimize the use of the country’s limited land resources. The URA also has a remit to ensure all developments avoid segregation (and in doing so facilitate and improve racial harmony), improve aesthetics, and reduce congestion on the island.
The Master Plan, lays down detailed plans on all types of land use – including housing, industry, commerce, parks, recreation, transport, defense and community facilities. It is developed in conjunction with all relevant government agencies, as well as with extensive public consultation. Of late it has focused on 6 key drivers:
- Public Spaces
Using the Master Plan to Help With Investments
If you are looking to invest in property in Singapore it is absolutely essential to familiarize yourself with the most recent URA Master Plan. Due to its isolation (in terms of investment potential), and the fact that all development has to be in line with the Master Plan, anyone looking to invest in the Singapore property market who is not familiar with the URA’s plans is putting themselves at a massive disadvantage. It is rare that potential investors are in possession of the plans for all developments in any given area for the foreseeable future. Though these plans can change, by familiarizing yourself with the last 2 or 3 Master plans, it is possible to see the trend and to make educated guesses what other areas could be open for development.
Dealing with solid facts however, the move recently has been towards decentralizing work and work opportunities away from the traditional CBD. The formation of these regional centres – Tampines, Woodlands, Jurong and Seletar have meant that in these areas – which previously would have been almost ignored by investors – are now ripe for investment. But that isn’t the end of it. There is development of one form or other all over the island. Improved transport links will suddenly open areas up that were previously deemed too inaccessible to be worthy of investment. The report doesn’t do the work for you, but it gives you the facts from which to build a strategy.
Another big move in recent Master Plans has been the focus on the MRT network. This is something that could very well change the strategy of many investors. Here is why. By 2030, the rail network will double in size (to 360km). 80% of homes on the island will be within a 10 minute walk to a MRT station. In the short term this means that there is a lot of building work going on. Even more than usual. This has a short term effect on rent, with prices softening, and in some cases apartments standing empty. When the building is complete however, then it is maybe a time to cash in, and take advantage of the location’s increased market value courtesy of its proximity to the brand new MRT station.
There is a chance however it won’t be that straightforward. There is a school of thought that with more than three quarters of the properties on the island being within a stone’s throw of an MRT, the premium such properties could demand ceases to be relevant.
As I said, the plan gives you the facts. The rest is up to you.
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