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‘Composition of Punggol site a factor’ for JTC appointment

23 May, 2017

Despite strong interest from the private sector in the Government’s new urban planning approach, analysts TODAY interviewed were not surprised that JTC — a statutory board — was appointed as the first Master Developer for the Punggol Enterprise District.

Among other factors, they noted yesterday the composition of the site — which includes the new Singapore Institute of Technology campus as well as commercial and business parks — and concurred that the authorities would seek to proceed more cautiously at the start, especially when Punggol has been identified as a key area for Smart Nation initiatives.

Nevertheless, they hoped subsequent projects will see greater involvement from the private sector, in line with the intent of the policy initiative.

“The Government would like to maintain an element of influence and control, and the selection of JTC is a logical choice, given that it is both a developer and a landlord for the Government,” said Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty. By appointing JTC as the master developer, the Government might be hoping to set an example of what is to be expected, he noted.

On Tuesday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced during the Committee of Supply debates that JTC will be appointed as Master Developer for the Punggol project. Mr Wong noted that most of the developments in the cluster are undertaken by government agencies. JTC will have the flexibility to develop the district based on land use and Gross Plot Ratio guidelines. For example, there could be closer integration of the facilities at the SIT campus and JTC’s business parks which are located side by side, Mr Wong said.

Apart from the Enterprise District, Mr Wong said the new Kampong Bugis residential precinct will be tendered out for a Master Developer.

Given that the composition of Kampung Bugis is a bit more plain vanilla compared with the Enterprise District. Given that the Punggol project consists of developments cutting across various sectors and is designed to spur business growth, there needs to be an overall government agency to speed up things and be in charge.

Developers such as Frasers Centrepoint Singapore and CapitaLand told TODAY they are keen to put themselves forward for such projects in future. The analysts said they expect the private sector to play bigger roles in future projects. They cited the potential benefits, noting that some private developers have extensive experience doing master planning overseas including in China and Vietnam. The Master Developer will have increased flexibility in designating the zoning for land parcels, and will thus be able to adopt a holistic approach.

However, a private developer has to maximise profits and be answerable to shareholders. With that mindset, can they do a good job? If the job is not done well, taxpayers may be left with the burden of a shoddy work done.

Adapted from: TODAY, 9 March 2017