SINGAPORE'S Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) new measures to prevent the proliferation of hotels, boarding houses and backpackers' hostels in areas not intended for hotel use might affect those looking to convert existing shophouses in historic areas such as Chinatown and Little India.
Effective July 7, the move seeks to ensure such developments “do not dominate and displace other commercial activities” in commercial areas where they are generally found, as stated in URA’s circular last week.
They are also generally disallowed within or at the fringe of residential estates so as to protect the amenity of nearby residents.
URA said within the Central Area, proposals for such developments, including change of use proposals on sites that are not zoned for hotel use, will generally not be allowed within certain areas inside the Outram, Rochor, Downtown Core and Singapore River Planning areas.
Proposals in other parts of the Central Area will be evaluated individually, taking into consideration the planning intention for the locality and the potential traffic impact.
Outside the Central Area, all such proposals will generally not be allowed.
Meanwhile, for existing approved hotels and boarding houses on sites zoned for hotel use, any proposed intensification of the Gross Floor Area (GFA) will continue to be subject to evaluation.
Expansion of existing approved boarding house and backpackers’ hostel uses that are on temporary permission will be considered individually, up to the total GFA of the existing building that it occupies. Further renewal of the permission will only be allowed if they have not caused any adverse traffic impact and disamenity to the surrounding users.
The Business Times reported that the affected areas include a big chunk of Chinatown and Little India shophouses.
The local broadsheet also quoted Mary Sai, executive director, Knight Frank as saying: "We interpret these locations straightaway as shophouses because these streets are dominated by shophouses.
"While demand for shophouses may be dampened by the new rules, on the other hand, owners of shophouses already approved for hotel use will find their assets rise in value over time because of difficulty in getting hotel sites."
URA will review this policy in two years’ time.