First BTO project in Rochor under new prime housing model to launch in November

SINGAPORE – The first project under a new model for public housing in prime locations will be built in Rochor, and launch at the next Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise in November.

The project will have a mix of 960 3-room and 4-room flats, and also include 40 2-room rental flats, as part of efforts to make living in prime areas accessible to all.

It will be located on two plots of land along Weld Road and Kelantan Road next to Jalan Besar MRT station, said the National Development Ministry and Housing Board in a joint statement on Wednesday (Oct 27).

An open-air car park next to Sim Lim Tower used to occupy one plot, while the other was vacated by the Sungei Road flea market in July 2017.

Besides an MRT station at their doorstep, future residents will also be within walking distance of Berseh Food Centre and Stamford Primary School.

At a media briefing on Tuesday (Oct 26), National Development Minister Desmond Lee said more HDB flats will be rolled out progressively after the Rochor project, in prime areas within and surrounding the city centre.

Moving forward, HDB will launch at least one prime location housing project per year, he said, adding that the proportion of new prime location flats to flats in other areas will differ year on year to ensure a diverse supply across areas.

Under a new model for public housing in prime locations, flats may only be sold after 10 years’ minimum occupancy, to buyers with a combined salary not exceeding $14,000.

To further curb the “lottery effect” – where BTO unit owners resell their prime location flats for an excessive windfall – HDB will also recover the higher subsidies for such flats by taking a cut of the resale proceeds. More details will be announced in November.

Higher subsidies will be provided for BTO flats in prime locations compared with typical BTO units, to keep prices affordable.

In comparison, BTO projects in other areas have a minimum occupancy period of five years and no salary cap for resale buyers.

The prime location housing model, which applies only to future projects, will be implemented for BTO projects in central areas like the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront. About 9,000 housing units – both public and private – will be built on the site of Keppel Golf Club, whose lease expires in December this year.

Mr Lee said: “If you leave everything to the forces of the private market, these attractive locations would likely become very expensive and exclusive locations, with housing that only the well-to-do can afford.”

This has happened in many cities around the world, he noted, adding: “We are determined not to let this happen in Singapore. We want to keep our city inclusive.”

HDB will launch a new housing project in November 2021 as part of a BTO exercise in the Rochor area. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The new model comes on the back of a 11 month-long public engagement, where more than 7,500 Singaporeans gave their views on the issue.

The 960 units in Rochor will be among 4,400 BTO flats to be launched in November, with others in areas such as Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Kallang/Whampoa and Tengah.

Another 2,000 to 3,000 BTO flats in Geylang, Tengah and Yishun will be launched in February next year.