Expect more landscaping: New buildings may get greenery quota

SINGAPORE - New Housing Board estates and private condominiums may be required to provide a specified amount of greenery in their developments, a move that is being explored by the Government.

It is also studying how to add more greenery to public infrastructure such as sheltered walkways and bus shelters.

These two prospective measures were disclosed on Thursday by Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who sees them as part of Singapore's City in a Garden vision.

"Where new developments displace existing greenery, (they) should fully or partially replace the lost greenery by other means," he said.

These could take the form of landscaping, rooftop gardens or vertical greenery such as "green" walls, he added.

Mr Lee was speaking at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference, which is part of the inaugural GreenUrbanScape Asia trade exhibition.

He noted that some new developments are already required to replace greenery lost during their building, under guidelines the Urban Redevelopment Authority introduced in 2009.

These include those in certain parts of the historic civic district, financial district and Jurong East.

The Government also has other incentives, like the Skyrise Greenery Incentive Scheme, to encourage developers to green their buildings.

Today, sky gardens and vertical green walls adorn more than 500 buildings. Singapore has about 60ha of green roofs, exceeding Chicago, which leads the United States with 51ha.

The new moves being considered got mixed reactions from developers on Thursday.

EL Development did not think it was necessary to impose new regulations because condominium developers like itself are already doing it as "buyers want more landscaping".

Said managing director Lim Yew Soon: "It's in the interest of the developer to provide more greenery anyway. We wouldn't want it to be a concrete jungle."

Real estate company SingHaiyi Group is more tentative.

Its executive director Chan Tung Moe said: "It depends on the details. But I think what they intend is right."

Meanwhile, at a separate session at the conference, HDB chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean gave a peek into how the board plans to green public estates even further in future.

Without elaborating, she said it is developing a Biophilic Town Framework, as well as working with the National Parks Board to develop an index to measure the levels of biodiversity in residential towns.

Details of these plans will be unveiled later, she added.


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