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How to Read the URA Master Plan to Help You with Your Next Property Purchase

How to Read the URA Master Plan to Help You with Your Next Property Purchase in Singapore

The Master Plan is reviewed every five years. The latest update was in 2014 so you can expect the next update to be some time in 2019 which will probably be quite soon.

What is the URA Master Plan

The Master Plan is the plan that guides the development of land and property in Singapore for the next ten to fifteen years. The Master Plan is a medium term plan whereas for the longer term plan, we have the Concept Plan which guides Singapore’s development over the next forty to fifty years. The Master Plan is reviewed every five years while the Concept Plan is reviewed every ten years.

Why Reading & Understanding the Master Plan is Important

Doing your research and knowing what has been planned for the future by reading and understanding the official plan of Singapore will certainly help you to make a better decision when it comes to property purchases.

For example, if you are purchasing a factory or warehouse unit for your business and if the location happens to be on a reserve site (zoned yellow) where the specific use of the land has yet to be determined, there could be a chance that the use of land may change once the specific use is determined in the future. If you move around on the map on the Master Plan, you will also find that certain plots of land are zoned under ‘subject to detailed planning’.

Also, if you are looking to lease or purchase a warehouse or factory unit which you have shortlisted, you can check out the Master Plan to see what are the zonings of surrounding buildings. For example, if you happen to be in the consumables or food business and are looking for Business 1 (B1) clean & light industrial but the surrounding buildings nearby are Business 2 (B2) heavy industrial, maybe you can consider to find out more about the tenant mix in the surrounding buildings to see if it will be a suitable location for your business.

In residential property context, imagine if you have shortlisted a high floor unit which is currently enjoying panoramic unblocked views or having the ‘million dollar view’ as a priority for your next investment property but did not have the chance to look through the Master Plan and it is only after the purchase did you realise that the land in front of your development has a similar plot ratio. This could mean that in a couple of years time, the views that you are currently enjoying would no longer be the same and certain views that you are currently enjoying may be blocked due to future redevelopments. From an investment point of view, this could affect the future value of the property and also the capital appreciation over the years.

Where to Access the Master Plan

The URA Master Plan can be easily accessed on URA’s website. Currently, a quick link for Master Plan 2014 can be found on the URA’s home page. Once you have gotten there, you will see a pop up which says ‘About Master Plan’. You will need to click on the ‘Close’ button below to proceed to the Master Plan map.

Once you are at the map, you may search for a desired location which you are interested to find out more.

In case you prefer using your mobile phone, there is also a mobile application which you may download. You can simply search for ‘Master Plan 2014 – Singapore’ and download it to your phone.

What to Look Out For in the Master Plan

Land Zoning

Things you should look out for will be the land zoning type (i.e Industrial, Business Park, Commercial, Residential) etc. You can also look at undeveloped lands nearby and see how they have been zoned which will give you an idea what to expect in the near future. You can also look at what is around the area (e.g educational institution, civic and committee institution, health & medical care, place of worship, park, sports & recreation etc.)

Each colour on the map represents a particular type of land zoning, which tells you what the land can be used for.

In order to find out what the colours represent, you may click on the vertical row of three dots and click on the ‘Legend’ button. Once you see the legend tab, click on ‘Show more records’ for the full list of legends.

If you would like to find out more about the zoning interpretation, you can click on any of the colours within the legend tab to view the description to know what the land can be used for as well as examples of developments that can be allowed for each zoning type.

Maximum Permissible Plot Ratio

Besides land zoning, the Master Plan also tells you about the maximum permissible plot ratio of the land. Knowing the plot ratio of the land would give you an idea of what is the maximum intensity allowed on that particular plot of land. In simple terms, the maximum allowable plot ratio means the ratio between the maximum allowable floor area of the building and the site area.

If the plot ratio of the land is high, it means that the land can be used more intensively and it is likely to contain a taller building or it can also mean that a tall building can be built on the land.

If the maximum allowable plot ratio has not already been maximised, it can mean that there is still opportunity to maximise the plot ratio by rebuilding a taller building on the plot of land.

How to Make Use of These information to Help You

Land zoning and plot ratio are generally the more important information which you can look out for in the Master Plan.

Most of us want to make informed decisions before committing to any lease or purchase, the Master Plan can help you in some ways or another as you would know what are in the vicinity of the area you are interested in.

As we know, knowledge is power and not only can you tell the zoning of the buildings around you but you can also find out if the surrounding buildings have similar plot ratios or if they have lower plot ratios. If the building you are interested in purchasing has similar plot ratio when comparing with neighbouring buildings but is currently much shorter than the neighbouring buildings, this can mean that the plot ratio has not been maximised and there may still be opportunities.

Also if you are looking at an area which is located close to a reserve site or a site which indicates subject to detailed planning, there could be future plans which may mean opportunities for new developments.

An important update to look out for will be the upcoming Master Plan 2019 which should be announced quite soon as the last one was updated in year 2014 and we know that the Master Plan is reviewed every 5 years. If you can spot the updates and differences in terms of zoning or maximum permissible plot ratio, you would be able to tell how the zoning has changed or if the maximum allowable plot ratio has been revised upwards or downwards. By identifying the differences or revisions, you may be able to spot some opportunities which can help you to make a much more well-informed decision for your next property purchase whether it is an industrial, commercial or residential property.