Monday, July 30, 2012

Vital to have balanced approach to land use


Straits Times: Mon, Jul 30

WE THANK Dr Ho Hua Chew for his commentary ('Preserving Singapore's green heartland'; July 14) and subsequent writers on the issue ('City of gardens doesn't make a garden city' by Dr Isaac Seow En' and 'Preserve the natural connection' by

Mrs Katrina Dub'e', July 19; and 'Wildlife affected by excessive development' by Mr Steven Chong, Forum Online, last Monday).

Greenery has always had an important place in the planning for Singapore. Despite being land-scarce, we have set aside close to 10 per cent of Singapore's total land area for parks and nature reserves.

In addition to the nature reserves, another 18 nature areas have been retained in the current Master Plan 2008.

Where possible, nature areas with rich bio-diversity are integrated into parks and other recreational spaces, so that they are accessible and available for public enjoyment.

We will be increasing our parks and open spaces within the next 10 to 15 years from about 3,600ha to 4,200ha. This will enable us to offer a greater diversity of recreational areas and green spaces.

We have to be judicious in land allocation.

Besides land for parks and open spaces, we also need to cater for other competing needs such as industry, housing, defence, transport, basic utilities and so on. Land is allocated for these activities in the Master Plan, which is reviewed every five years.

This requires discipline and a delicate balance in land use because land is a scarce resource in Singapore.

While we wish we could have an abundance of everything, the reality is that we need to strike a careful balance among the many competing needs of a nation-state. Land earmarked for other uses will eventually need to be developed when the need arises.

Putting aside land for parks and open spaces is not the only option available to us.

Our public agencies and community have done well working together to find our own solutions to improve the quality of greenery and to integrate greenery deeply into our cityscape.

Efforts like the Community in Bloom, the park connector network, the ABC Waters Programme and encouraging more skyrise greenery will bring greenery closer to homes and transform Singapore into a City in a Garden.

Some 47 per cent of Singapore is covered in greenery despite urbanisation, a collective achievement that we can be proud of.

Through good planning and collaboration with public agencies and the community, we can certainly strive to do better in the years to come.

Tan See Nin

Director (Physical Planning)

Urban Redevelopment Authority

  
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