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Transport corridors, lifting of height limits after airbase moves

NEW transport corridors and the relaxing of height restrictions for at least six housing estates in the north-east and east are in store after the air force moves out of Paya Lebar, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said yesterday.

The Straits Times - August 22, 2013
By: Melissa Tan

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Transport corridors, lifting of height limits after airbase movesPHOTO : ISTOCKPHOTO

NEW transport corridors and the relaxing of height restrictions for at least six housing estates in the north-east and east are in store after the air force moves out of Paya Lebar, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said yesterday.

The relocation of the Paya Lebar Airbase, expected to happen after 2030, will free up 800ha of land for redevelopment.

"The large size of the site and its fairly central location give rise to many exciting possibilities for new developments to enhance the living environment in the eastern part of Singapore," MND said in an e-mailed statement in response to media queries.

There was "potential to introduce new transport corridors across the land", it added, and height restrictions could be lifted in several towns currently affected by flight paths.

These towns include Toa Payoh, Hougang, Sengkang, Punggol, Bedok and Tampines.

MND also told The Straits Times that existing height restrictions for buildings affected by flight paths range from between one and two storeys for industrial buildings in Kaki Bukit Industrial Estate, to between 16 and 17 storeys for housing developments in Punggol.

Transport experts said yesterday that an MRT line, as well as major roads and expressways, could be built through the 800ha of land freed up by the relocation.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said that a Cross Island MRT Line proposed by the Government in January would previously have had to go around the airbase rather than through or under it due to security reasons.

"But now that the airbase will be relocated, there's no need to compromise (on the line's route). It could also be built cheaper and faster," Professor Lee said.

Slated to be ready by 2030, the planned 50km Cross Island Line will run from Jurong to Tampines.

Nanyang Technological University adjunct associate professor Gopinath Menon, a retired Land Transport Authority planner, noted that parts of the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) had to be built underground because of the airbase.

"The KPE could be moved to the surface level," he said, adding that any new township built on the vacated land would require surface-level access roads. That township could also get its own MRT station.

Knight Frank research head Alice Tan said future developments in the area would complement the growth of the proposed North Coast Innovation Corridor, a commercial belt stretching from Woodlands and Sembawang to the future Seletar Regional Centre and Punggol.

However, CBRE Research associate director Desmond Sim said that the impact of the relocation on property prices in surrounding areas "would depend on how state planners react". He expects the Urban Redevelopment Authority to release Singapore's Master Plan 2013 - a statutory plan on land use - by early next year.

Paya Lebar Airbase is surrounded by low-density developments such as industrial estates, but consultants said that the land use for those areas could eventually be intensified or changed.

As for the towns such as Bedok and Tampines that could have height restrictions relaxed, Mr Sim said the future en bloc potential could result in property prices appreciating 10 per cent to 20 per cent.

However, he cautioned against any "knee-jerk" price rise, saying the airbase relocation was many years down the road.

MND said yesterday that the relocation was "a large-scale endeavour and will take time to realise". It added: "The specific new development plans for Paya Lebar Airbase and the surrounding area will be shaped over time."

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