3 generations, one flat in new HDB scheme

PHOTO: 3 generations, one flat in new HDB scheme

SINGAPORE - The Housing Board launched 84 "three-generation" flats on Thursday in its latest bid at encouraging multi-generational living.

But observers are unsure if the 115 sq m units, to be sited in a Yishun project near Khatib MRT, will be popular - or face the same fate as its "granny flats", which were discontinued in 1987 for lack of demand.

But accountant Aris Lee has submitted her application. The 42-year-old, who lives with her husband, four young children and elderly mother in a four-room flat, said: "I have been waiting for this for a very long time. I need my mother with me to help with my kids, and there are very few affordable options for families our size."

The 84 flats are priced at $335,000, which can go down to $325,000 with grants from the Government. They have four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and are about 5 sq m larger than current five-room units.

Married or courting couples, together with their parents, are eligible to apply.

But some MPs and observers said they do not sense great demand for such units. "Young couples tend to want to live near their parents, not with them," said Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh.

To this end, Thursday's Build-To-Order (BTO) launch also marked an expansion of the scheme to allow parents to stay in the same estate as their adult children.

HDB will set aside 15 per cent of studio apartments, two- and three-room flats in a BTO project for those with children applying for units in the same estate.

Thursday's offer of the "three-generation" flats was part of a major launch of 5,293 BTO units. Of these, new flats were located in Punggol and Yishun, while 1,137 were two-room balance flats brought to market early by HDB to meet the unexpectedly strong demand from singles. They are located in Hougang, Jurong East, Jurong West, Punggol, Choa Chu Kang, Sembawang, Woodlands and Bukit Panjang.

Since July, singles earning $5,000 a month and below can apply for new flats. That month, 8,800 singles jostled for the 519 flats on offer.

Besides rolling out balance flats early, HDB is also re-designing some of its future projects to include more two-room units for singles. It now aims to launch 2,500 two-room flats this year, and 5,000 next year.

And in a move that observers say will please young couples, HDB announced on Thursday that it will let flat buyers choose whether to have a partition wall between their kitchens and dining areas.

This wall will be an optional component, together with types of flooring and doors, to give flat buyers flexibility in home design.

A pilot scheme last year in Teck Ghee found that 70 per cent of the buyers in a project with 576 units chose the open kitchen concept, said HDB.

Mr Richard Soon, director of architecture firm P&T, said the option makes sense as young families now cook less often than before, and use electrical plates, which are less messy.

rchang@sph.com.sg


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