At long last, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has finalised the long-awaited Master Plan 2019, following the teaser that was the URA Draft Master Plan earlier this year. Mapping out present and future uses of land in detail, the URA Master Plan reveals a lot about the Singapore government's plans to develop the country in the next five years (that is until the next Master Plan emerges).
And, if you don't already know, details of the Master Plan can provide valuable, and actionable information for anyone with a stake in local property, be it owners looking out for an opportunity to upgrade, investors looking out for upside, or prospective buyers deciding on where the location of their dream home.
To find out what the most significant changes are in the latest URA Master Plan 2019, we spent time comparing it with the previous Master Plan in 2014.
Here, we will analyse the Bukit Timah planning area, being one of the planning area in the Master Plan 2019.
Note: Residential sites are colour-coded as pale orange on the URA Master Plan. Light-blue denotes commercial-residential sites. Dark blue sites are purely commercial (i.e. retail and/or office).
Having seen better days in the 1960s and the 80s, Beauty World is a retail hub in need of serious refurbishment. Having served residents in the area for decades Beauty World Plaza, Beauty World Centre and Bukit Timah Shopping Centre are chunky concrete blocks that serve a function but not form. Opposite, a line of restaurants and eateries operate in old-school shophouses.
In the past decade, a big change occurred. The opening of Beauty World MRT on the Downtown Line in 2015 brought increased human traffic into the neighbourhood and an impetus for change. Beauty World Plaza, a mixed-use commercial and residential development, attempted an unsuccessful en bloc attempt in 2019, while neighbouring Goh and Goh Building, which sat on freehold land and was sold en bloc in 2017, will be turned into a mixed development.
Within walking distance to Beauty World MRT, several new condos are also in the currently being built, including Daintree Residence and View at Kismis. It was a matter of time before retail and commercial amenities in the area modernised, too.
In the 2014 edition of the URA Master Plan, the government had plans for a large medical facility on an undeveloped plot of land near Beauty World MRT (marked with ‘H’ in red).
The medical facility was never realised, and URA announced this year that the site will instead be developed into an integrated transport hub. According to the URA, this site will include a community club, a redeveloped market, hawker centre, indoor sports hall, community library and an elderly facility, in addition to a retail and private residential component. On 3 December 2019, URA announced that this site will open for tender next year, with the potential to house 865 condo units.
The integrated transport hub won't be the only mixed-use development in the years to come. Across the road is another ‘light blue’ site, albeit a smaller one, that will offer even more retail and housing options.
Yes, the private residential developments in and around Beauty World paint an exciting future, but let’s not forget about the HDB estate of Bukit Timah, which sits close to the action. With 1,733 units, this precinct currently has one of the highest HDB resale transaction prices in Singapore. (The $666,500 median transaction price for 4-room flats this year puts Bukit Timah among the top 5 most expensive HDB towns.) With a facility-packed new integrated transport hub in the works, further upside is expected for these flats.
Coming back to private homes in the area, the future also looks bright. Looking at median per square foot (psf) asking prices for non-landed private properties in District 21 (which mostly covers Beauty World and the surrounding neighbourhood), we have seen a 28% increase over the past three years. This is the second-highest increase in Singapore after District 7’s 30% increase.
With the government’s plans for the area, we foresee the rise in asking prices to continue in the years to come.
- New amenities in the area (shopping malls, civic & community institutions etc)
- New major infrastructures to be built
- Enhancement in public transport connectivity