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URA sets minimum average size for retail units

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The government is moving to prevent a proliferation of small units at malls that may not serve their intended purpose and can cause disamenities, but said that this should not be read as an attempt to cool the strata retail market.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday introduced a minimum average size for retail units of 50 square metres (538 square feet) that takes effect today. This is comparable to a typical Housing and Development Board shop unit.

Also introduced were guidelines that retail developments should have minimum corridor widths of two to 2.4 metres for single loaded corridors, and 2.4 to three metres for double-loaded corridors. Single-loaded corridors serve retail shops on one side while double-loaded ones serve retail units on both. "They are not intended to be a cooling measure for strata retail market," a URA spokesman said last night.

The new guidelines, which apply to all new developments (commercial or mixed use) with retail floor area are meant to ensure a good shopping environment, the spokesman said.

This follows National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan's comments on his blog that flagged "a couple of developers" who have submitted applications for malls that feature mainly shops as small as nine sq m (97 sq ft).

"At nine sq m, the shop will be even smaller than a car park lot," Mr Khaw said.

URA said it had received more proposals that include a large number of small retail units from nine sq m to 25 sq m, with narrow corridors less than 1.5 metres wide. This means a mall can potentially have more than 10 times as many shops as it did before redevelopment.

Mr Khaw said that small shops have a place in the retail landscape as they support entrepreneurs and are suitable for trades such as moneychangers and florists, but is concerned if they are the predominant shop type.

"If these shops are not suitable for most retailers, then the developers' motive is probably to target individual property investors rather than genuine retailers.

"Who will the individual property investors sell or tenant to after the developers have sold these units to them?" he questioned.

URA said that developments with many small shops and narrow corridors can cause a lack of car park space and traffic congestion, and may not meet the varied needs of shoppers or be able to handle pedestrian traffic during busy hours.

After consulting industry players, such as the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Architects, who share the authorities' concern, URA introduced the latest measures.

Mr Khaw said: "They give developers and architects the flexibility to propose a suitable mix of larger and smaller shops for their developments."

Market watchers welcomed the latest measures.

Credit from Business Times -?
27 March 2013
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