If you’re serious about investing in Singapore real estate, you will need to familiarize yourself with the URA Master Plan.
And because the plan can be daunting for those that are not accustomed to the real estate market in Singapore, we’ve put together this helpful article that guides you through the various aspects of the URA Master Plan and reveals how to understand it, and why it’s important to do so.
But let’s begin by looking at what the URA Master Plan actually is and why it’s central to the future development of Singapore.
What is the URA Master Plan?
First published in 1958, the URA Master Plan has guided the urban development of Singapore for sixty years. Its publication shifted the focus from general improvement schemes to a detailed plan regulating the appropriation and development of land in Singapore.
Based upon Singapore’s Concept Plan (that articulates a broad vision of the country’s development for the next fifty years), the URA Master Plan provides detailed implementation plans that can be operationalized in the shorter term; usually within ten to fifteen years.
Why Do I Need to Consider the URA Master Plan Before Investing in Singapore Real Estate?
Singapore is a nation that doesn’t leave things to chance. While buying real estate is a gamble in many parts of the world, if you’re considering making a Singapore real estate investment, you can utilize the URA Master Plan to your advantage.
The plan details any future developments that may influence the value of your property in the next ten to fifteen years. It also considers factors that may affect your quality of living, should you purchase real estate in a particular locale of Singapore.
In short, the URA Master Plan offers you a glimpse into Singapore’s future. By understanding it, you can alleviate some of the risks associated with investing in Singapore real estate and be confident of finding your dream home. And here’s how.
Six Things You Need to Understand About the URA Master Plan.
Before we explain how to understand the URA Master Plan, you can view it for yourself over at URA SPACE. To the uninitiated, it’s not the easiest graphic to navigate, so to help you out, we explain its key aspects in detail below:
1. Plot Ratio.
Before buying Singapore real estate, you need to ascertain the plot ratio of the land parcels demarcated within the URA Master Plan. Plot ratio is defined as “the permissible development intensity of a specified land parcel,” which translates into the maximum gross floor area (GFA) of any development on a particular piece of land.
The good news is that there’s a simple formula to calculate GFA:
GFA in square feet = Plot ratio x site area in square feet.
You can find the plot ratio of a Singapore land parcel by searching for it within the URA Master Plan. Following a search, you will notice that a number has been assigned to the land parcel. Before you make a calculation, you can assume that developments with similar land areas, but markedly different plot ratios, will differ significantly in density. Let’s take a look at an example:
|Metric||The Pinnacle @ Duxton||Tanjong Pagar Plaza|
|Land area||270,950 sq ft||308,924 sq ft|
|Max GFA||8.4 x 270,950 = 2,277,980 sq ft||3.5 x 308,924 = 1,081,234 sq ft|
|Total residential units||1,848||1,022|
Our calculations show that The Pinnacle @ Duxton is a much denser land parcel than Tanjong Pagar Plaza. Understanding plot ratio is essential, as you can predict the level and density of development in the coming years. If, for instance, you buy Singapore real estate that is in a relatively underdeveloped land parcel, you can glimpse its development potential by ascertaining the plot ratio and maximum GFA.
2. White Sites.
On the URA Master Plan, white sites are land parcels that will be developed as a combination of hotel, residential, commercial, recreational, and sports spaces. The URA invites bidders to submit detailed proposals for the development of white sites and award the contract based upon how closely the submission fits the proposed developments and desired benefits of the area.
Generally speaking, white sites become “mixed-use” areas that command a higher value. You can safely assume, then, that buying Singapore real estate in close proximity to a white site will likely be a sound investment.
3. Business 1 & Business 2 Sites.
It can be a little confusing for prospective Singapore real estate buyers to understand the difference between Business 1 & Business 2 sites on the URA Master Plan. Fundamentally, both sites will be used for commercial development by a range of businesses operating in different industries.
Companies able to operate within Business 1 (purple) land parcels tend to be “clean industries” and are defined as those without “nuisance buffers of more than 50m imposed upon them.” Thus, companies such as publishers, software development firms, and the like, will constitute space within Business 1 Sites.
Conversely, Business 2 sites (magenta) can be developed by companies operating within “special industries.” This includes the manufacture of machinery, shipbuilding, and repairs. The vast majority of people would prefer to live closer to a Business 1 site and properties nearby are likely to command a higher value than those next to Business 2 sites.
4. Civic and Community Institutions.
Colored in red on the URA Master Plan, civic and community institutions refer to land parcels that have been reserved for civic purposes. A civic and community institution in Singapore may include:
- Public libraries.
- Community Centres.
- Childcare facilities.
- Reformative centers (halfway houses).
- Police stations.
- Fire stations.
- Funeral parlors.
While you might like the idea of living next door to a library, you’re likely to be less enthused at the prospect of having a reformative center outside your front door! Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid Singapore real estate that is directly overlooking red civic and community sites, but being close by isn’t the end of the world.
5. Places of Worship.
You have to look closely to spot places of worship, as they’re also colored in red on the URA Master Plan but are also marked with a distinctive “W” to help you differentiate between the two. As you might have guessed, places of worship refer to religious buildings such as mosques, churches, and temples. The URA stipulates that places of worship are places where:
“[The] praying area shall be the predominant use and shall be at least 50% of the total floor area of the development.”
Whether you want to live in the immediate vicinity of a place of worship is a matter of personal preference. But from a Singapore real estate investment perspective, you should note that places of worship tend to be associated with smoke and noise pollution and experience increased traffic levels, particularly on days of worship and festivals. Buying a condo next to a place of worship might not be ideal for everyone.
6. Business Parks.
The sixth and final aspect of the URA Master Plan to understand is the inclusion of business parks, which are blue on the map. There are several business parks demarcated in the Plan, including:
- Changi Business Park.
- International Business Park.
- Seletar Aerospace Park.
- Tuas Biomedical Park.
- Cleantech Park.
- Punggol Digital District (to be completed).
Purchasing Singapore real estate close to a business district is a savvy investment for those looking for a rental or buy-to-let property, as many employees will look to rent a place to stay that is close to their place of work to save on their commute.
What About the Other Aspects of the URA Master Plan?
The six elements of the URA Master Plan, as introduced above, are those most likely to affect your property value and quality of life. But you should also consider the following aspects:
- Utilities (grey) – substations, telephone exchanges, water stations, etc.
- Health and medical care (red + H) = care homes, hospitals, clinics, etc.
- Sports and recreation (light green) – Stadiums, sports centers, sporting facilities, etc.
- Educational institutions (light yellow + E) – primary, secondary, or tertiary education facilities.
- Special use (army green) – military camps, airbases, training facilities, etc.
- Reserve sites (yellow) – as yet undetermined.
Why is it Important to Understand the URA Master Plan?
Ultimately, understanding the URA Master Plan is critical before investing in Singapore real estate. Thanks to the foresight and planning of the state, you have a glimpse into potential future developments of the country and can select a location where your property is likely to increase in value while ensuring your family can enjoy a high quality of life.
Knowing what developments are likely to take place near your chosen property, as well as what you’re particularly keen to avoid near your home, means you can enter the Singapore real estate market with confidence and select a property that is well suited to your needs.
Can we help you navigate the plans? We love to help!