Singapore Unveils Underground Space Usage Plans for 3 Pilot Areas

Apr 2019

Under its Draft Master Plan 2019 (DMP19) released on 27 March, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore has unveiled plans for underground space use in three pilot areas, namely Marina Bay, Jurong Innovation District and Punggol Digital District. The Master Plan is the statutory land use plan which guides Singapore’s development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years. It is reviewed every five years and translates the broad long-term strategies of the Concept Plan into detailed plans to guide the development of land and property.

Utilizing underground is space is one of the strategies Singapore is adopting to address the issue of land scarcity. In 2015, the Ministry of Law has made legislative changes to the State Lands (Amendment) Bill and the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill to facilitate the government’s long-term planning for the use and development of underground space.

By relocating utilities, transport, storage and industrial facilities, surface land  can be freed up for people-centric uses. The government is tapping on 3D technology to facilitate upfront planning of the underground space and improve the efficient and effective use of underground space. A 3D underground map, called 3D Underground Special Detailed and Control Plan, is being rolled out for the three pilot areas, to show the underground uses and planning requirements. The underground map for Marina Bay for instance shows the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) network, the Marina Coastal Expressway, car parks, pedestrian links, common services tunnel (supposed to house multiple utilities including waste disposal and air-conditioning pipes) and district cooling points, as well as the underground space in Marina Bay. These maps will be made transparent to developers and building owners. This 3D underground plan will be expanded to include more areas in future. 

The government is also studying the feasibility of using caverns for utility, storage and industrial uses at areas like Tanjong Kling. It is also developing a planning tool to identify areas with potential for cavern development based on compatibility with above ground uses, and suitability of geology. This can guide planning for the locations and types of cavern uses so that they do not negatively impact above ground developments.

(Sources: Urban Redevelopment Authority; Straits Times)

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