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Masterplan details for Punggol North to be fleshed out towards end-2017

Masterplan details for Punggol North to be fleshed out towards end-2017.

JTC Corporation will be fleshing out more details of its masterplan for Punggol North towards the end of this year, and more details on the Jurong Innovation District (JID) next year.

These are among key projects where the government is hoping to catalyse new growth areas, test innovations and co-locate complementary activities and services.

Such new districts could attract existing companies here that wish to transform themselves as well as new entrants, JTC's development group assistant CEO David Tan told The Business Times.

"It will be a combination of both," he said. "Some existing companies would like to upgrade and transform their businesses, so they may move into these new districts. We hope to catalyse the growth of new industries as well."

At the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Asia-Pacific Summit on Tuesday, Mr Tan also shared that beyond ensuring the right industry mix in these estates at the outset, it is necessary to future-proof the infrastructure, providing sufficient flexibility in the design so that they can be re-purposed over time.

This comment came in response to a question during a panel session on how the government is future-proofing its new districts as industries evolve rapidly and life cycles of companies get shorter. JTC is the master planner and master developer for both Punggol North and JID. Punggol North is focused on cybersecurity and digital media sectors while JID is planned for advanced manufacturing, robotics, urban solutions, cleantech and smart logistics.

Flexible land use will be tested out at Punggol North, Singapore's first "enterprise district", by having land use and gross plot ratio guidelines implemented at the district level, instead of at the building or strata-unit level.

Elsewhere, JTC will also be allowing a wider range of manufacturing-related uses in a multi-tenanted industrial building within Woodlands North Coast, a 70ha business hub in the north, in response to increased "servicisation" of the manufacturing sector.

Simon Bee, managing director for global design at architectural and master-planning firm Benoy, noted that flexibility is key in ensuring that real estate remains relevant in face of new innovations such as digital printing, robotics, driverless cars and online shopping.

To that end, Singapore government agencies are looking at "future-proofing" new districts such as the second CBD known as Jurong Lake District, said Urban Redevelopment Authority group director for physical planning Yvonne Lim, who was also at the same panel session.

For instance, the government is mulling over how to raise the share of public transport usage; in its planning of roads, it factors in how to support public transit, driverless cars or autonomous vehicles, as well as changes in logistics distribution network in new commercial and residential areas.

But the greater challenge is on how to adapt existing districts and areas for future changes. This is something the government continues to study, Ms Lim added.

A report released by ULI on Tuesday, detailing the challenges of going "car lite" for 10 Asian cities, flagged that Singapore's need to accommodate a growing population on limited land has stoked a shift towards more space-efficient modes of transport. To satisfy the needs of the first and last mile of trips, the government has allowed folding bikes and personal mobility devices on trains and buses all day, and numerous bike sharing services have kicked off.

From 2016, property developers are required to submit a walking and cycling plan in development applications.

"By welcoming new technologies while helping stakeholders and users adapt to change, Singapore is focusing on people's needs and working with the market to find mutually beneficial solutions," the report says. "This allows for greater systemic innovation, and is a prerequisite for achieving 'mobility as a service'."

The 600-ha JID is designed with a car-lite approach and connected to the Jurong West residential area. It will cover Nanyang Technological University (NTU), CleanTech Park, and the surrounding areas of Bulim, Bahar and Tengah.

At new districts, JTC is planning to introduce shared services such as district-level cooling systems, a pneumatic waste conveyance system and integrated estate facilities management to increase companies' operational efficiency.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 7 June 2017