Housing in S’pore ‘actively’ supports integration and mobility, some for the lower income earners in prime locations: Desmond Lee – Mothership.SG

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Urban planning in Singapore is done proactively to create opportunities for different groups to interact, in and around where they live, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said on January 24.

Lee noted, “Societies around the world are increasingly polarized on race, religion, socio-economic status or political ideology. This is exacerbated by the online space, which is much easier to understand. ‘interact only with those who agree with us and avoid others who don’t.’

Lee then quoted Carlo Ratti, a professor at MIT, who had pointed out that physical spaces can serve as an “antidote” to a problem where people have to meet and adapt to those around them, however different they may be. .

Policies encouraging interaction between people of different socio-economic status

Lee was speaking at the close of the fourth and final day of the annual Singapore Perspectives conference, organized by the Institute of Policy Studies think tank.

Explaining that the Singapore government has not left social integration and mobility to chance, but actively supports these processes, he added that Singapore has implemented or intends to implement the following policies:

  • The ethnic integration policy, which guarantees a representative mixture of races in the hearts of the HDB,
  • A new model of social housing in prime locations, so these areas are accessible to more Singaporeans, not just the more affluent,
    • Public rental housing for low-income households in these prime locations will also eventually be introduced.
  • The current integration of public rental apartments with owned apartments across Singapore – in some cases in the same block.

Lee also added that these policies were associated with programs and activities that encouraged community ties, such as:

  • ComLink, which provides health, education and other support to low-income households in public rental housing, and
  • HDB’s Home Ownership Support Team who will also guide these households into buying their own home, when they are ready to do so.

The government has also made efforts to help people with disabilities

The government has also made efforts to better support people with disabilities, the minister said.

“Through regulations such as BCA’s Accessibility Code, as well as the efforts of various bodies to design and install accessibility infrastructure, we have made many parts of our city largely barrier-free,” he said. -he explains.

Lee acknowledged that there were still gaps to be filled for people with disabilities.

He cited an initiative of the Third Enabling Masterplan, known as the Accessible City Network, which brings together the public, private and people sectors to explore various ways to improve Singapore’s accessibility, guided by people’s lived realities. disabilities.

This includes building owners, public agencies, businesses, NGOs and disability groups, among others, to identify micro-level or ground-level issues that need to be addressed, he said. .

The demand for housing has increased

Lee also noted that the demand for housing has increased recently, for the following reasons:

  • The children of baby boomers born in the 80s and 90s, who were now starting their own families and looking for their own homes, and
  • Changes in social structures, with smaller households, including more single person households, as well as children and their parents preferring to live separately rather than in multi-generational homes.

There is also the simultaneous demand for more space and greenery for respite and mental well-being, as well as the need for more health care facilities, cultural and recreational amenities, economic zones for new industries, research and innovation labs – among many others.

“But we only have about 730 square kilometers of land, so we have to be very disciplined and creative, to make room for all these different needs,” he said.

The government must therefore plan for the long term with a master plan to guide Singapore’s development over the next 10 to 15 years, Lee added.

This plan is reviewed every five years, while the long-range plan is updated every ten years for the next 50 years, according to Lee.

The Minister then presented the following strategies used to maximize land use:

  • Building taller, or co-locating different facilities and stacking them on top of each other,
  • Reclaim land where possible and utilize underground space, guided by the underground master plan, and
  • Redevelop and rejuvenate existing developments, to free up land for new, higher intensity uses.
    • This includes the Greater Southern Waterfront, Jurong Lake District and Paya Lebar Air Base when relocated.

Reiterating the exceptional pressure Singapore faced regarding land use as a city-state, Lee said:

“It’s our burden to bear, but it’s also our calling and our opportunity – and it drives us to keep finding better ways to make the most of what we have.”

Singapore’s vision for the future as a city requires trust, stewardship and action

This raised the Minister’s point that planning for Singapore’s future as a city requires the following three elements:

1. Trust

Here, Lee said tough decisions had to be made for city planning and trade-offs had to be made, including tough trade-offs.

Trust is therefore essential in such situations, to know whether one’s point of view will be heard and whether those who disagree “love the city as much as we do”, he said.

“And when decisions are made, are we confident that they are made in our common best interest, considering all perspectives?” he posed.

As such, trust means believing that despite the presence of disagreements, ultimately everyone involved has Singapore’s interests at heart.

“Fostering this takes hard work. There will be stumbles along the way and that only comes with building deep relationships over time,” Lee added.

2. Stewardship

For this element, Lee reiterated the need to think long term.

“Our land, our resources – they are precious and we need to manage them carefully. That means thinking long term, because our city is not just for us, but for our children and their children to come.”

The minister then pointed out that it was the long-term vision of “our forefathers” that resulted in Changi Airport, Marina Bay and Singapore’s MRT networks.

However, tracts of land have also been set aside as part of their vision, which are currently being used for the aforementioned urban transformation plans.

“As these plans are realized, they will create exciting new spaces for the next generation, who in turn will pursue their own plans for rejuvenation and shape the city according to the vision they aspire to,” he said. -he declares.

Therefore, he urged all Singaporeans to take good care of Singapore as stewards, so that future generations have room for their dreams.

3. Stock

On this point, Lee spoke of the need for collective action:

“Beyond discussion (like the open conversation at this conference) and ideation, let’s also take action, roll up our sleeves, work together. And that’s what the Singapore Together Movement seeks to achieve. We all have a role for society and the city-state to play in the future.

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