Before buying a new home, some people’s idea of property research simply consists of trawling through their property agent friend’s Facebook page for “good deals”. But for savvier Singaporeans, the URA Master Plan is a useful source of information about what lies in store for the various areas in Singapore.
The URA Master Plan is the government’s official plan for statutory land use over the next 10 to 15 years. All land in Singapore is zoned according to what it can be used for, whether transportation, residential use, commercial use and so on.
The latest available version is URA Master Plan 2014.The land is reviewed every 5 to 10 years, so we can expect the next one to be published in 2019.
Knowing ahead of time which neighbourhoods will be undergoing a facelift or enjoying better transport networks is a definite advantage if you’re looking for property that will appreciate in value. But first, you need to learn how to use the thing.
How do I access & navigate the URA Master Plan?
This can be viewed on URA’s website. Click “close” on the first window that pops up and you’ll find the master plan below.
Now that you’ve got the map on your screen, you can zoom in on any areas you’re interested in, or simply search for an address using the search bar in the top left.
Find the address of your desired property and look at the zoning type allocated to the plots of land in the vicinity. If you’ve already made a site visit, you’ll want to take note of any empty plots of land that have yet to be developed, and see how they have been zoned, as that will give you a hint as to what could pop up in future.
OK, I entered my property’s address. What should I look out for?
The land parcels adjacent to or near the property will affect the value and livability of a potential home. Each of the colours corresponds to a particular type of zoning, which determines what the land can be used for.
To find out what those colours mean, click on the vertical row of three dots beside the search bar, then click “Legend”.
Transport facilities / MRT / LRT
Transport facilities can have a huge impact on property prices, especially in the case of MRT stations located within walking distance. It’s a good idea to check exactly what is being built on the LTA website, as the impact of a new MRT station gives a much bigger boost to property prices than a new bus interchange or LRT station.
(Note that MRT stations/bus interchanges are often zoned commercial / residential when they are integrated with shopping malls, so they will appear in blue on the map.)
However, there is such a thing as being TOO close to an MRT station. If you can hear the “please stand behind the yellow line” announcement from the property, you’re too close.
Business 1 / business parks (light industries)
Business 1 zones tend to be occupied by clean or light industry, and are thus not disruptive and can even be a source of jobs. Business parks tend to be composed of office buildings or complexes and the F&B industries that pop up to serve them. Again, they’re a source of jobs and can make your area more attractive for prospective buyers or renters.
Business 2 (heavier industries)
These sites tend to house slightly heavier industries. While they’re not going to be factories or power plants spewing gas, they might be a bit more disruptive, and better not to live to close to.
Commercial (retail, office)
In Singapore, having businesses nearby is generally thought of as a good thing. Having more commercial plots in your area indicates that you’re not in a terribly inaccessible place devoid of facilities.
Sports and recreation
If these are facilities you or prospective tenants/buyers use, they’re great to have nearby, however it’s best not to buy property that’s located right next door, as you might experience disruption.
Educational institutions (schools)
If you’ve got school-going children and just want them to go to the nearest school, these are great. However, schools can be a source of noise pollution during recess and dismissal time. This might not be a problem to you if your entire household works full-time, though.
Health & medical care
It’s usually not a good idea to buy property too close to a place zoned for healthcare. These could be hospitals, polyclinics or other facilities such as rehab centres, hospices or convalescent hospitals.
Civic and community institutions / places of worship
It’s generally not a good idea to be located right next door to places of worship. A temple might mean lots of incense or smoke, and there’s also the risk of having to hear chanting and singing. Religious buildings might also come with a columbarium.
With civic and community institutions, you don’t really know what you’re going to get. They might be community clubs, old folks’ homes or a police station. Again, they’re generally okay to have in the neighbourhood, but not right next door.
The proximity of greenery tends to make property more attractive, particularly if said greenery is part of a well-developed park like Punggol Waterway Park and is connected to the cycling track network. However, parks still lose out to MRT stations and shopping malls when it comes to enhancing property prices.
These are areas which are undergoing development, usually into some kind of commercial, residential or recreational space. These tend to value-add to the area from the perspective of a resident, and so are not bad to have nearby.
What else can I do with the URA Master Plan?
The URA MasterPlan can tell you not only the land use zoning of a plot of land, but also the plot ratio. Plot ratio gives you an idea of how intensively a plot of land can be used, i.e. how likely it is to contain tall buildings.
All you have to do to check plot ratio of a parcel of land is to zoom in. The number indicated on each plot of land is the plot ratio. The higher the number, the more intensively the land can be used.
If there are residential plots of land around your property currently undergoing development and they have a high plot ratio, that means that your view might soon be blocked as the upcoming buildings are likely to be tall condo blocks.
Commercial plots of land with a high plot ratio mean that you could be looking at a new shopping mall, which tends to be favourable for land prices.
You can also check the tallest allowable building height for certain plots of land. Enter the address or name into the search bar, and then click “Control Plans” > “Building Height Plan”.
Are there any limitations to the URA Masterplan?
While the URA Masterplan can be a useful tool when doing your research, there are some limitations.
The Masterplan can give you an idea of what the land in the vicinity is being used for, how crowded it will get and how tall the buildings will be.
But it does not offer details pertaining to the exact facilities and services in the vicinity. There is a big difference between a bus station and a cycling track, or a shopping mall and a factory.
Promotional material and brochures for new launches in an area are usually good sources of info regarding upcoming developments in the area. Keep up with updates from URA and LTA on infrastructure developments in the area, and scan local business news for info on new developments such as new shopping malls and successful en blocs.
Have you ever done research using the URA Master Plan? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!
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