Businesses like banks, gyms can operate in some industrial areas

COMMERCIAL businesses such as minimarts, banks, clinics and fitness centres can now operate out of certain industrial buildings.

This is part of new guidelines, drawn up by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Ministry of Trade and Industry and economic agencies.

They affect buildings in "outlying industrial estates which are located far from existing commercial nodes".

These areas include the Kranji and Sungei Kadut industrial estates in the north-west region, and those in Tuas, Boon Lay and Pioneer in the west.

A URA circular dated Monday noted that clinics, banking halls and gyms are basic amenities that serve industrial workers' needs.

Commercial use will be capped at 200 sq m (2,152.78 sq ft) or 10 per cent of the total proposed gross floor area (GFA) per development, whichever is lower, and must be contained on the building's first storey.

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said the new rules mean industrial space developers or owners will have more flexibility when designing projects.

"With industrial activities in Singapore moving up the valuechain to less labour intensive and more technologically advanced functions, the profile of industrial space users is increasingly educated and sophisticated in their requirements for supporting amenities," added Mr Ong.

The revised guidelines apply with immediate effect to all new applications submitted on or after this past Monday.

Canteens will also be allowed to serve not only workers in the same building but also external customers, so as to expand food options within industrial estates.

New industrial canteens will be capped at 700 sq m or 5 per cent of the total proposed GFA per development - whichever is lower.

As for showrooms in an industrial development, the URA will consider proposals to allow them only after the building has obtained its temporary occupation permit and when the potential occupier or operator for the spaces is known.

Mr Ong noted that industrial properties generally can be rented out at around $2 per sq ft (psf) per month, for ancillary uses that are mainly commercial.

Space for supporting uses that serve industrial workers could be rented out at about $4 to $7 per sq ft (psf) per month, "about double the income for the same pocket of space had it been leased out for industrial purpose", he said.

Keeping in mind the caps made on GFA with certain uses, landlords may see about a 20 per cent rise in total rental income derived from the entire development under the changes, Mr Ong noted.

He added that some amenities like gyms may even be leased out rent-free or at token rentals, "as the operator needs to provide the equipment and may not necessarily have high membership rates from the occupiers".

Century 21 chief executive Ku Swee Yong said: "While there will be some uplift in rentals for those buildings that qualify and install such higher-paying tenants, the overall industrial market index may not increase."

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