URA to further explore utilising underground space

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is looking for more opportunities to develop underground space, URA’s Chief Planner and Deputy CEO Lim Eng Hwee said in a media interview recently.

“At some point when land becomes so dear, we would have no choice, which is the case of Japan, when you have no option. So underground is the default option, but as you do more of it, you find ways of managing the issues, a clever way of managing the cost and a clever way of making it a bit more optimal. The potential is huge but we have to find ways to overcome these challenges and we are trying to do it partly learning by doing,” he said

Some of Singapore’s major underground projects include the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, the Jurong Rock Caverns and an ammunition facility at Mandai.

Ng explained, “The ammunition storage at Mandai is not just a creating a storage place and freeing up a piece of land. Storing ammunition above ground sterilises almost a huge area around the ammunition storage area. By doing that you free up a lot of land.”

Moving forward, URA is looking at opportunities to free up land and constraints (due to some of these facilities being above ground) by moving them underground. Lim cited, “Take a highway for example. If you put a highway underground, straightaway, your noise problem would disappear, you don’t see the traffic and your whole environment becomes better.”

He added other cities are also doing the same thing, in particular Japan as the country is  very short of land. “So most of these utilitarian infrastructure, mostly are underground now. So we are also learning from them to see how we can do more of this.”

He added Singapore has taken “a very pragmatic and disciplined approach” when it comes to balancing between urban planning for economic growth, and social and environmental considerations

“I think in most other cities, they call this a sustainable approach. In our context, it is actually out of no choice, we are just this island, so we have to make sure that whatever we do today does not compromise our potential in the future,” Lim said.


Image source: URA

Muneerah Bee, Senior Journalist at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email muneerah@propertyguru.com.sg