The Government will not allow the site of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's home to be redeveloped in a way that would diminish its historical significance, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and National Heritage Board (NHB) in a joint statement yesterday.
In response to a commentary in The Straits Times suggesting greater public involvement when selecting buildings for conservation and preservation, the two agencies said the Government will take Mr Lee's wishes into consideration very seriously regarding the future plans for the house at 38 Oxley Road.
Mr Lee, who died on March 23, had made clear in his will that he wanted to see the house demolished after his death or after his daughter Lee Wei Ling moves out.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had explained in Parliament on April 13 that Dr Lee would continue living in the house. Therefore, there is no immediate issue regarding the demolition of the house, and no need for the Government to make any decision now on the property, URA and NHB said in the statement.
"Under the Planning Act, building owners are required to seek URA's approval prior to carrying out works to demolish, redevelop or undertake additions and alterations to their properties," the statement said.
"Under the Preservation of Monuments Act, NHB draws advice from its panel of experts comprising individuals from diverse backgrounds in the people, private and public sectors. NHB also engages owners to seek their support to preserve their properties."
The statement added that the Government "will take into consideration very seriously the wishes of Mr Lee regarding the future plans for the house and site, at a time when a decision has to be made as regards both".
Considering the historical significance of the property, if a decision is made to allow for the house to be demolished, the Government is unlikely to allow the site to be redeveloped in a way that would "diminish its historical significance", said the statement.
For instance, if it was redeveloped for commercial or intensive residential purposes, it could diminish the property's historical significance.
The area is planned as a low-rise residential precinct and zoned for two-storey mixed landed use.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.