Law Ministry to study ownership of underground space

SINGAPORE - The Law Ministry will study how countries such as Japan and Finland treat the ownership of underground space as urban planners here mull over the possibility of developing Singapore's subterranean areas more extensively.

Singapore's law now assumes the owner of the surface land also owns the underground space "to a depth that is reasonably necessary for the use and enjoyment of the property", said Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah in Parliament on Monday.

But some countries, she noted, allow owners of land on the surface to have a "certain depth" of underground space for their use, while enabling deeper subterranean space to be used for underground projects.

She was replying to Mr Liang Eng Hwa, an MP in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, who had asked for the official position on ownership of underground space.

Mr Liang's question was prompted by a blog post by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan earlier this month.

Mr Khaw wrote that underground space in Singapore could be exploited for a range of uses, such as transport hubs, cycling lanes, research facilities and shopping areas.

His ministry is "thinking of the possibility of developing an underground equivalent of the Master Plan" for land use, which is being updated, he had said.

On Monday, Ms Indranee said her ministry will work with the industry and study other countries to arrive at a "sensible approach".

She assured Mr Liang that the issues he raised are being studied, such as whether new laws are needed on the rights of landowners and if future underground space would be an asset that can be mortgaged.

She said: "We will consult stakeholders and set up a sound framework for agencies to realise the vision of more space to live, work and play."

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