If HDB flats built in the 1960s are to be demolished by 2024, after just 60 years, why bother with 99-year leases?
It was reported that residents of 3,480 flats in 31 blocks in Tanglin Halt will soon have to move under the Housing Board’s Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Adieu to Tanglin Halt, one of Singapore’s oldest estates, June 6).
Did HDB or policymakers get feedback from the community to establish how many Tanglin Halt residents would like to move, or how they want their flats and neighbourhood renewed?
Ageing housing estates is a “people problem” needing “people solutions”. New buildings alone will not resolve the problem. Crucially, this problem will recur in all HDB estates.
Here are some ideas.
To get young people to move into mature estates, give them an option to rent a flat in the estate while waiting for their Build-to-Order flat. Should they like the area, convert 90 per cent of the rent paid into their deposit for a flat.
Dwindling enrolment in schools? Instead of closing schools, have a lower teacher-student ratio. Soon, better school results will attract young parents. Businesses will follow.
How about giving the children of immediate neighbours or those living on the ground floor first refusal whenever a flat is put on the market?
Ground-floor flats could be repurchased by HDB to be repurposed into safe communal spaces. Imagine studios for children to learn music, libraries, a quiet place for students to do their homework. Older people can also meet, learn new skills and exercise together.
Affordable self-storage would also come in useful as some of the flats are tiny. Business incubator units? The possibilities are endless.
Let residents and their children lead the thinking in estate rejuvenation.
If the value of flats depreciates as they get older, then we must start delinking housing from profit-making, and not tear down structurally sound buildings.
Any demolition is an assault on the environment.
Lee Siew Peng (Dr)