The latest updates for the progressive redevelopment of Paya Lebar Air Base and its surrounding industrial areas were recently unveiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on June 6 2022 at an exhibition for the decennial long-term plan review. Carried out in 2021, the review saw URA source opinions from the public on how Singapore’s land could be repurposed for the next 40 to 50 years, focused on how land use could be better optimised to ensure greater sustainability, self-sufficiency, and pandemic readiness.
Proposed development plans for the Paya Lebar Airbase
One year on, the URA has confirmed plans to relocate the Republic of Singapore Air Force offsite from 2030, freeing up 800ha of the air base and surrounding industrial space for a land that is approximately five times the size of Toa Payoh. URA chief planner and Deputy CEO Ms Hwang Yu-Ning have stated that development will be carried out over the next two to three decades.
Industrial experts predict that land parcels from the area will first be released to serve the public housing market. Following this, one to four land parcels are expected to be released annually under the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme for private housing.
The introduction of developers will gradually transform the new Paya Lebar town into a regional centre similar to the likes of Woodlands, Tampines, Punggol Digital District and One-North. This falls in line with wider plans to draw out businesses from the Central Business District and bring them closer to homes, making work-life balance more accessible to residents who live far away from the city centre.
The town will retain distinguishing features such as the 3.8-long runway that pay homage to the site’s history as a national airbase while also functioning as a town centrepiece. Former president of the Singapore Institute of Planners (SIP) Wilfred Loo has noted that vistas could be perched upon the sloped runway to accentuate natural geographic contours. Flanking greens and other amenities could also be used to divide the runway into segments with distinct characteristics and purposes.
Also being considered are architect proposals from SIP and the Singapore Institute of Architects, which will include the transformation and integration of former passenger buildings, control towers and bunkers into housing and recreational facilities, for the formation of towns optimised for remote work and future industries.
Authorities are also contemplating dividing the area into districts such as civil quarter, tech quarter, creative quarter, transitional residential zones and a heritage lawn. National Development Minister Desmond Lee has also highlighted the priority for green elements to be incorporated into the futuristic live-work-play town of Paya Lebar.
How the redevelopment of Paya Lebar Airbase will affect the property market
Another topic of discussion in the property industry is whether areas surrounding Paya Lebar Air Base may have their plot ratios revised once height restrictions of military flight training cease in the area. Height restrictions are typically issued near airports and air bases to prevent buildings from intersecting with flight paths during landing and take-off.
Height restriction removal will offer developers greater flexibility when it comes to optimising and rejuvenating land space. For example, several more floors could be added to older properties during development, creating more space for facilities or housing units. There’s also a greater chance that older units in the area could be redeveloped via en-bloc.
Furthermore, the development of Paya Lebar Airbase may also set a new precedence for benchmark prices, since property watchers observe that the last major GLS site — Paya Lebar Central in 2015 — has already completed its transition into a mixed-use development.
Novel ways to meet housing demand
Land scarcity is an age-old problem in Singapore, but the new Paya Lebar town could see the rise of innovative building concepts designed to tackle the issue. Possible developments include the never-before-seen vertical zoning concept in industrial estates that integrate complementary activities such as industrial activities, co-working spaces, and residentials on the lower, mid and upper floors respectively.
This new take on mixed-development buildings could help increase housing supply in a more land-efficient manner. The extensive land space will also give authorities greater flexibility to plan for a better mix of public and private homes to meet rising demands from households of various income brackets. Over the short span of two years, the number of BTO flat applications had risen from 38,500 in 2018 to 51,400 in 2020.
Check out Part 2 of our guide on the redevelopment plans at the Paya Lebar Airbase for more information on the amenities and transport nodes to be expected.
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