As HDB gears itself for the challenges ahead, it is guided by strategic planning goals that are periodically reviewed and refined.
The programmes to promote active and cohesive communities in HDB towns made good progress, evidenced by HDB’s sample Household Survey (SHS) 2013.
When the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) carried out a survey in late 2014 on public perceptions of Singapore’s history, survey respondents named the formation of HDB on 1 February 1960 as one of the top 10 events most important to Singaporeans. I am glad that HDB’s role in giving Singaporeans a stake in the nation has resonated strongly with Singaporeans. This is a welcome gift for HDB as it turned 55 in February this year, and for Singapore marking its golden jubilee.
As HDB gears itself for the challenges ahead, it is guided by strategic planning goals that are periodically reviewed and refined. Under the HDB 2015 Plan which culminated in the FY, HDB aimed to provide homes of quality and value, create vibrant and sustainable towns, alongside nurturing of active and cohesive communities and inspiring and enabling staff to give their best.
HOME OWNERSHIP ENHANCEMENTS
During the FY, HDB kept its focus on ensuring a steady supply of flats as demand for new HDB flats remained strong. HDB launched five Build-To-Order (BTO) Sales Exercises, comprising a total of 19,814 units and released 6,674 units of balance flats for sale. The overall take-up rate for new flats increased from 74% in FY 2013/ 2014, to 81% in the current FY.
Housing policies such as the conversion of the Married Child Priority Scheme from a chance-based to a quota-based priority scheme offered families significantly higher chances of success. The Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), meant as an additional housing option for first-timer married couples while awaiting the completion of their new flats, was revised in November 2014 to allow two eligible households to co-rent a PPHS flat.
Other segments of the population also benefitted from enhanced housing policies during the FY. The singles quota was raised from 30% to 50% from the May 2015 Sales Exercise. The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) was extended to 4-room flats, which together with further refinements such as the flexibility to choose the length of lease to retain, availed the scheme to more elderly households, and provided more choices for them.
UPGRADING AND RENEWAL
A key part of HDB’s work and mission involved town rejuvenation plans and programmes to enhance the liveability of HDB towns. HDB made excellent progress with the rejuvenation of towns under the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) Programme. Even as the first and second batch of towns under the programme proceeded, a third batch of ROH towns, namely, Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Pasir Ris, was announced.
The plans included the rejuvenation of Toa Payoh Town Centre, the creation of more recreational spaces on the Woodlands Waterfront, as well as new developments at the Pasir Ris Town Centre. Views and ideas from residents and community stakeholders of these towns were also gathered through a series of focus group discussions. These feedback would help to further develop and refine the ROH plans.
The FY also saw 33 projects announced for the Home Improvement Programme (HIP), and 11 projects under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP). As the age criterion for NRP was extended to include blocks built up to 1995, this translated into approximately an additional 100,000 eligible flats for NRP. With the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) in its final phase, HDB focused its efforts on the remaining 52 precincts undergoing the programme.
The Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme was further improved from August 2014, with the expansion of coverage of improvement items such as grab bars and slip-resistant treatment to the second toilet, and lowering the age criterion for EASE (Direct Application) to 65 years and above.
For the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), HDB successfully announced its largest SERS project in Tanglin Halt estate, benefitting about 3,480 households, in June 2014. HDB would develop five land parcels in Dawson with new facilities for the residents, realising Dawson’s ‘Housing-in-a-Park’ vision conceptualised under HDB’s ROH initiative.
Leveraging Information and Communication Technology to make HDB towns more liveable and sustainable for residents, HDB launched the Smart HDB Town Framework in September 2014. It also planned on piloting selected Smart initiatives in the first four housing projects in Punggol Northshore, envisioned to be a ‘Smart and Sustainable District’.
Quality and excellence in service and product continued to be pillars for HDB.
The pilot HDB Greenprint project in Yuhua had shaped up well since its launch in 2012. Targeted for completion in the second half of 2015, it aimed to create sustainable homes together with the community.
The HDB Greenprint would be extended to Teck Ghee, to obtain feedback from residents before identifying the successful initiatives for replication in other housing estates. These would include enhancing the cycling and pedestrian network, sky-rise greenery, pneumatic waste conveyance system, and community-level educational programmes to nurture residents’ interest in eco-living.
The programmes to promote active and cohesive communities in HDB towns made good progress, evidenced by HDB’s Sample Household Survey (SHS) 2013.
The findings showed that 85.7% of residents interacted with neighbours of other ethnic groups and/ or nationalities; 97.1% felt that estate facilities were adequate for interaction in their precincts; and significantly, a growing proportion, or 98.8% of residents felt a sense of belonging.
Moving forward, there would be more collaboration with residents to help shape a joint vision on the best use of the shared community spaces. One such initiative was the launch of an integrated mixed-use development, Kampung Admiralty, which held its ground breaking ceremony in April 2014.
The one-stop hub, meant to re-ignite the kampung spirit of yesteryear, would encourage social interaction and active living through its innovative design, communal spaces and sustainable features.
Quality and excellence in service and product continued to be pillars for HDB. In the FY, the re-engineering of key service areas and processes under HDB’s Service Masterplan commenced, with the frontline atrium spaces in HDB Hub slated for completion in early 2016 to provide a refreshed customer experience. HDB received awards in the FY that affirmed the transformative housing solutions put in place.
These included the SIA Architectural Design Award for Bidadari Estate Master Plan, and the Green Apple Award for the Built Environment 2014, by The Green Organisation, United Kingdom for My Waterway@Punggol.
The awards notwithstanding, as HDB moves into the future, keeping pace with customer needs and a challenging service and housing environment will continue to keep us on our toes. Having crossed the final lap of the HDB 2015 Plan, the next five-year milestones will demand our continued commitment as we work with trusted partners and stakeholders to provide the best homes for Singaporeans.
With the commitment and passion that have been displayed by everyone – Members of the Board, management and staff, and the HDB Union, I have no doubt that we will continue to blaze many new trails as we serve the nation on its next 50-year journey.
Mr James Koh Cher Siang