Lush spreads its green cover further

Lush spreads its green cover further
Landscaped areas at Parkroyal on Pickering include sky terraces and planter boxes.

TO ENCOURAGE skyrise greenery such as roof gardens in private developments, more areas will be subject to regulations and developers given more incentives under an enhanced government scheme.

Since the Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (Lush) programme started in 2009, it has supported the addition of 40ha of new urban greenery - the size of 130 primary school fields - in new developments.

In a blog post yesterday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said: "We are pleased with what Lush has accomplished and have decided to do more, through additional incentives and regulations."

Under the original programme, all new projects in Marina Bay, Kallang Riverside and Jurong Gateway had to replace greenery lost with landscaped spaces at least equal to the site's land area.

Under the enhanced scheme, dubbed Lush 2.0, the policy will apply to all new projects and redevelopments in Marina South and the Orchard area.

It will also cover the Woodlands Regional Centre, Punggol Creative Cluster, Tampines Regional Centre and Paya Lebar Central, as well as commercial and commercial/residential projects in 19 town centres.

New replacement requirements have also been introduced for other areas. All non-landed residential, commercial, mixed-use and hotel developments must provide a minimum level of pure greenery (varying by land use intensity).

The changes kick in on Sept 12. But bigger sweeteners for developers kicked in yesterday.

If existing buildings in the Orchard and Downtown Core areas convert rooftops into gardens, developers can get bonus gross floor area (GFA) for an outdoor dining area. Lush 2.0 extends this to new developments and redevelopment proposals, as well as commercial and mixed-use developments in parts of the Singapore River area.

Lush 2.0 also has more flexibility for GFA exemptions. Previously, these were granted for planter boxes of up to a metre's width. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will now consider exemptions for wider planter boxes if they are part of an overall design for more greenery.

There was also a limit on GFA exemptions for covered gardens on the ground. URA will consider going beyond it for good designs.

CapitaLand group chief corporate officer Tan Seng Chai noted that skyrise greenery not only brings people closer to nature but also reduces urban heat gain and could thus save energy needed for cooling buildings.

In the last two years, 62 per cent of residential projects approved by the URA and 34 per cent of commercial, hotel or mixed projects took up Lush incentives.

Mr Veera Sekaran, managing director of landscape firm Greenology, said his industry needs professionals who understand aspects of urban greening, such as choosing plant species which can survive in an urban environment.

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