The draft masterplan of the Jurong Lake District (JLD) envisions green areas, homes and businesses around the future High Speed Rail terminus. The district could be anchored by sectors such as maritime services, energy and IT as it becomes a second nucleus in Singapore, and yield some 100,000 new jobs.

Govt studying plan to sell large land plots in Jurong Lake District

100,000 new jobs, 20,000 new homes in the offing for district; development of district to start with area around HSR terminus

Lynette Khoo
The Business Times
Aug 26, 2017

THE government is considering the sale of large land parcels, within the next few years, in Jurong Lake District (JLD) where it aims to create 100,000 new jobs and add 20,000 new homes.

“With that, we can create a critical mass of developments once the High-Speed Rail (HSR) terminus starts its operations by end-2026,” Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on Friday.

The development of the JLD, which will take at least 15 to 20 years, will start with the area around the terminus for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur HSR, Mr Wong said.

He was speaking at the launch of an exhibition to showcase the draft master plan of the JLD – a district that is positioned to become Singapore’s second Central Business District.

Most of the mixed-use business area in the district will be zoned “white” to allow developers to curate a mix of uses with conditions; the regular grid structure will allow the government to sell land parcels of varying sizes more easily.

Other bold plans for JLD include district-level infrastructure and car-lite initiatives such as having at least four consolidated underground carparks, with each development being 200 to 400 metres from a carpark hub, and public transit-only streets.

The government’s target is to achieve more than 80 per cent for public transport mode share within the district, compared to the current islandwide average of 66 per cent.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said it is also working with relevant agencies on plans to consolidate goods deliveries coming into the district through an off-site logistics centre just outside the JLD. This is aimed at reducing freight vehicle traffic in the district by at least 65 per cent during peak hours.

A significant amount of road space in JLD will be set aside for public transport and more space for pedestrians, cyclists, and users of personal mobility devices (PMDs). Each development in the district will be within 400 metres or a five-minute walk from a bus-stop or MRT station.

The blueprint for JLD was first unveiled in the 2008 Master Plan when the area was earmarked as a new growth area. There is now some 160 hectares of land that is yet to be developed within the 360-hectare district. More than 40 per cent of the mixed-use business area is set aside for residential purposes.

URA had in February this year appointed a team led by the Netherlands’ KCAP Architects & Planners as consultant to develop the detailed master plan for JLD.

With the HSR terminus “a major game-changer” that will spur new economic activities, Mr Wong envisaged that the JLD can be a catalyst for Singapore’s next stage of economic transformation in the same way Jurong Industrial Estate kick-started Singapore’s manufacturing sector more than 50 years ago.

Given JLD’s proximity to the future Tuas mega-port, industries and businesses in the west, as well as two universities, JLD can become a hub for companies in the maritime services, energy, IT, infrastructure and the built environment, he added.

Landlords can also co-locate non-traditional uses such as schools, community facilities, hotels, MICE facilities, attractions, museums, and event spaces for companies and universities to meet and showcase their prototypes.

Desmond Sim, who heads research for Singapore and South-east Asia at CBRE, felt that the government is making it very clear that it encourages a high level of flexibility for the private sector with the land-use zoning.

“The planning authority is now positioned more as a facilitator than prescribing ways to make the best use of land,” he said. “This strategy has worked well for the current core CBD of Marina Bay and it might see the same success in the second CBD.”

Augustine Tan, president of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas), said he would expect keen interest among developers to participate in land tenders in JLD, especially those who already have a commercial footprint there.

With the potential of JLD to be unleashed closer to the completion of the HSR, some developers may seek an early-mover advantage in this area, Mr Tan said.

A spokesman from City Developments Ltd said that for larger land parcels, developers may need to factor in various commercial considerations such as longer and flexible land leases as well as options to phase out the project to better plan cashflows and mitigate risks.

“This will also allow developers to introduce ideas and innovations over a period of time in line with changes in the economic and social environment,” he said.

CapitaLand, which already started in-mall distribution in some of its malls including Westgate in Jurong Gateway, said it welcomes the nation’s push for an offsite consolidation centre in JLD as it foresees a further reduction of road congestion around its malls and more efficient process for all parties along the delivery chain.

To improve JLD’s connectivity to surrounding areas, the government is looking at alleviating traffic on existing roads to the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

It will introduce a new road to the AYE to divert traffic away from roads such as Jurong Town Hall Road. Meanwhile, the Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Line will be ready by 2025 and 2030 respectively.

Knight Frank head of consultancy and research, Alice Tan, noted that pending the start of construction of HSR and future MRT Lines, it is early days for property prices in the area to see short-term escalations.

Based on the draft master plan, some 16 hectares of new parks and open spaces will be added in the district, complementing the existing 90-hectare Jurong Lake Gardens. The existing Science Centre building and Jurong Town Hall building may be repurposed for other uses.

There will be a new water channel by the eastern shores of the lake to create another island in Jurong Lake, in addition to the existing Chinese Gardens and Japanese Gardens. This new channel will create more waterfront areas for social and community activities as well as spaces for recreation, retail and F&B.

District-level systems will be implemented in JLD to optimise the use of resources. These include common services tunnel, district cooling system, pneumatic waste system and urban logistics management systems. Where possible, these utilities will be placed underground to free up above-ground space for liveable uses.

The draft master plan will be exhibited at the URA Centre Atrium from Aug 25 to 31, and at Westgate from Sept 8 to 17, for members of the public to visit and offer their feedback.

This article was first published on August 26, 2017.
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