News & Views 1st December 2022


20-24% of first-time BTO applicants in mature estates successful on first try: Desmond Lee

The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2022, Wed 9:28 PM

By Michelle Ng

SINGAPORE – Between 20 per cent and 24 per cent of first-time applicants managed to get a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in a mature estate on their first try in the past three years, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

Of all first-time applicants who managed to get a BTO flat in a mature estate from 2019 to 2021, less than 2 per cent took more than five tries, he noted in a written reply to Workers’ Party MP He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) on Wednesday.

In the same period, the median number of attempts by all first-time families before they were successful in their BTO application in mature estates was one, added Mr Lee.

Ms He also asked for the maximum number of failed attempts that an applicant put in for a BTO flat in a mature estate before the person succeeded, to which Mr Lee said the figure would not be representative.

“This is because there are some applicants who may not have an urgent need for a BTO flat and may be applying exclusively to mature estate BTO projects or more attractive BTO projects only,” he added.

“Generally, we see high demand for BTO flats in the mature estates. Given the strong demand and limited flat supply, not all flat applicants applying for BTO flats in mature estates can secure one,” said Mr Lee.

He reiterated that applicants who wish to improve their chances of securing a BTO flat are encouraged to apply for units in non-mature estates.

Virtually all families who were first-time applicants and applied for a BTO flat in non-mature estates were given a chance to select a unit within their first three tries, he noted.

The Housing Board has ramped up the supply of new flats to meet strong demand, with more than 23,000 BTO flats launched in 2022, up from 17,000 in 2021.

More than 9,600 BTO flats are up for sale across 10 projects in five estates in the November BTO sales exercise, which ends at 11.59pm on Dec 1.


Jurong Bird Park site to be returned to JTC in 2025, public to be consulted on site’s use

The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2022, Wed 5:00 PM

By Ng Keng Gene

SINGAPORE - The Jurong Bird Park site is slated to be returned to JTC Corporation in 2025, after the bird park moves to Mandai in 2023.

Prior to the site’s return, JTC will work with Mandai Wildlife Group and other relevant agencies “on the reinstatement of the site”, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan in Parliament on Wednesday.

JTC and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) were jointly reviewing longer land use plans for the site along with other agencies such as the National Parks Board, said Mr Tan.

“We will take into consideration the existing features such as the (bird park’s) waterfall as well as the Jurong Hill tower nearby,” he added.

“We understand that given the memories and history tied to Jurong Bird Park, we will seek public feedback in due time to shape future plans for Jurong Hill together.”

Mr Tan was responding to Mr Shawn Huang (Jurong GRC), who had asked about plans for the park’s animals and plants after it closes on Jan 3, 2023.

Mandai Wildlife Group had said in October that a great “migration” of some 3,500 birds will take place between Jurong Bird Park’s closing and the opening of the new bird park in Mandai – Bird Paradise – in the second quarter of 2023.

Mr Tan added that about 50 species of plants will also be moved to the new park.

Following the announcement of Jurong Bird Park’s closing date, The Straits Times had reported that heritage advocates want the park, as well as Jurong Hill next to it, to be retained as recreational green spaces.

Those who spoke with ST said that beyond the memories associated with the bird park, the broader Jurong Hill area holds significance for the nation – given its role in Singapore’s early industrialisation programme – and called for iconic built features in the area to be kept.

Jurong Bird Park and Jurong Hill Park collectively occupy an area of about 35ha – the size of about 50 football fields – that is zoned for park use and managed by JTC.

Mr Huang had also asked about the annual economic potential of the Jurong Bird Park site, in the light of its value as a green space, to which Mr Tan replied that a figure was not readily available.


High Court rules condo shop owner has right to reserved seat on council

The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2022, Wed 5:59 PM

By Selina Lum

SINGAPORE - The High Court has reversed a decision by the Strata Titles Board and ruled that it was not wrong for the owner of a minimart in a Choa Chu Kang condominium to get a seat on the property’s management council without having to be elected.

The case centred on the interpretation of the term “mixed-use development” in a provision of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act.

Under the Act, at least one council seat must be reserved for each class of use in mixed-use developments.

In written grounds of decision issued on Monday, Justice Kwek Mean Luck found that Palm Gardens, which has 695 separate strata units – 694 residential units and a shop unit – met the criteria of being a “mixed-use development”.

First, said the judge, it was not in dispute that the condo has more than three subsidiary proprietors.

Thus, the only issue was whether Palm Gardens consisted of buildings authorised under the Planning Act for two or more classes of use.

Justice Kwek referred to the planning permission issued by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Dec 14, 2000.

“In my view, the fact that Palm Gardens was authorised to have both residential units and a shop unit meant that Palm Gardens was authorised under the Planning Act for two classes of use – residence and commercial,” said the judge.

The dispute arose from the management council elections in November 2021.

The representative for the condo’s managing agent who helped conduct the elections took the position that the property was a mixed-use development and thus, one council seat was reserved for the minimart owner.

The other 13 council members were elected through the regular process.

Six home owners, who own three units between them, then took the case to the board.

The board agreed with them that the shop owner did not have an automatic right to be on the council and invalidated his appointment.

The board, in its written grounds released in August, said the presence of one shop unit did not make the condominium a mixed-use development.

The management corporation, represented by Mr Toh Kok Seng, then appealed to the High Court.

In his grounds, Justice Kwek disagreed with the board that there must be a minimum number of owners in a particular class of use for a development to be considered “mixed-use”.

He noted that there was no requirement for this under the law.

The judge rejected arguments by the six home owners that a shop operating on land that has been zoned as “residential” does not fall under the “commercial” class of use.

He said this went against the plain words of the relevant provision in the Act.

Justice Kwek also examined the replies given by URA and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to queries from the parties.

He noted that a BCA deputy director had told the managing agent to refer to the written permission issued by URA to check what class of use the shop came under.

Instead, the board relied on a reply from a more junior BCA officer, who said the condo was registered as a residential development, without specifying what the registration related to.


CDL posts S$281 million in sales in Q3 amid low inventory of unsold units

The Business Times, 30 Nov 2022, Wed 9:32 PM

By Tan Nai Lun

CITY Developments Limited (CDL) saw sales slow in its third quarter ended Sep 30, as the property player had a low inventory of unsold units with no new launches in the quarter.

The group and its joint-venture (JV) associates sold 95 units with a total value of S$281 million in Q3, CDL said in its third-quarter operational results on Wednesday (Nov 30).

For the first nine months ended Sep 30, the group and its JV associates sold 802 units worth S$1.9 billion, compared to 1,382 units worth S$2.5 billion in the same period a year ago.

CDL noted, however, that sales have surged to 1,417 units worth S$2.8 billion as at Nov 30, mainly led by the October launch of its JV project, Copen Grand executive condominium (EC).

The response for the EC was “overwhelming”, with an average launch price of S$1,300 per square foot, CDL said.

For its investment properties in Singapore, CDL noted that its office portfolio was resilient with 94.3 per cent committed occupancy, while its retail portfolio also remained healthy with 95.3 per cent committed occupancy.

With the easing of travel restrictions and pent-up travel demand, CDL’s hotels also registered a global revenue per available room growth of 88.9 per cent to S$161.90 for Q3, from S$85.70 in the same period a year ago.

As for its fund management segment, CDL said it is placing a temporary pause on its initial public offering aspirations for its UK commercial properties until the market stabilises.

Looking ahead, while CDL noted that rising interest rates, inflationary concerns and Singapore’s property cooling measures may cause potential buyers to be more cautious in their decision-making, it expects the property market to remain resilient given the low stock levels.

“Moreover, with a recovering economy, Singapore’s political stability, and its strength as a financial hub, there is sustained interest from local buyers, foreign investors and high-net-worth individuals,” CDL added.



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