Advertisement

Government Announces New and Improved Foreign Worker Dormitories Near Residential Areas

Eugenia Liew
Government Announces New and Improved Foreign Worker Dormitories Near Residential Areas
In a joint media release earlier this week (1 June 2020) by the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), it was announced that the government will be building new and improved foreign worker dormitories that will house about 60,000 workers by the end of this year.
There will be new quick-build (temporary) dormitories, as well as repurposed state properties like former schools and vacant factories that will be converted into housing for our migrant workers.
This aims to improve living conditions and reduce the density, which will help address several issues that were brought to light by the large Covid-19 clusters in foreign worker dormitories.
Here’s a quick overview of the announcement, as well as the local reception to it.

New and improved dormitories for foreign workers in Singapore

As the name suggests, quick-build dormitories are temporary structures that can be built much quicker than usual. They last 2 to 3 years, and can house 500 to 1,000 people per hectare.
There are 8 sites already allocated for this purpose.
In addition to these quick-build dormitories, quite a few former schools, vacant factories and other unused state properties will be converted into dormitories.
Scroll down to the end of the article for the full list of new dormitory sites.

Some of these new foreign worker dormitories will be near current residential areas

If you scrutinize the list of upcoming dormitory sites, you’d notice that many are quite near current residential areas. This is especially true for the former school buildings.
Almost as if anticipating backlash, in his address, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong urged Singaporeans not to adopt a "not in my backyard (NIMBY)" mindset.
“In land-scarce Singapore, it’s inevitable that some of these new dormitory sites will be quite near residential areas, so all of us have to do our part to reject the ‘not in my backyard’ mindset,” he said.

What does ‘not in my backyard (NIMBY)’ mean?

NIMBY is when residents oppose to new buildings or structures too close to their homes. Typically, it’s not that the residents object to the idea of the new building (in this case the dormitories), they just don’t want it to be near their residence (in their ‘back yard’).
It seems Mr Wong was spot on—his announcement didn’t receive the warmest reception.

Many Singaporeans concerned about the announcement

After the announcement, many Singaporeans took to Facebook and other online channels to express concern over having foreign worker dormitories built near residential districts.
A Facebook user named Shawn Lim even made a compilation of these comments in a post that went viral. At the time of writing, his post was shared over 2.7K times and had 278 comments.
There were many recurring themes in the comments, but perhaps the most obvious one was the concern about how these dormitories would affect nearby residential properties.
Facebook post by Shawn Lim.

Should homeowners be worried?

It’s anyone’s guess whether or not these new dormitories will impact nearby housing.

Positive or negative can be subjective

It is known that properties can be positively or negatively impacted by amenities in the neighbourhood. However, aside from amenities like MRT stations that clearly boost accessibility and usually cause a price uplift, whether or not a building is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ can be quite subjective.
For instance, there are folks who view seemingly ‘neutral’ amenities like temples, aged care facilities and even schools as negative. A family with a young child may like the convenience of having a primary school nearby, while another may consider the daily chatter as noise pollution.

Some existing dormitories already near residential estates

Additionally, as Stuart Chng (Senior Associate Executive Director of OrangeTee & Tie and co-founder of Navis Living Group) points out, there are currently already many migrant worker dormitories located as close as 400m from housing estates.
One such example is the S11 Punggol dormitory that’s just a bridge away from homes in the Sumang estate.
In 2014, the Punggol Bayview BTO along Sumang Walk had a selection of ‘special’ units with balconies facing the Punggol-Serangoon Reservoir that many were willing to pay a premium for. But besides the waterfront view, you know what else could be seen? That’s right—the S11 dormitory.
Then, in 2018, land in the same area (Sumang Walk as well) received record high bids for executive condominium (EC) development. The S$509.37 million bid was won by CDL Constellation and TID Residential, working out to about S$6,275 per square metre of the gross floor area (GFA). This EC is none other than Piermont Grand.
Although we are not saying that these concerns are not justified, it is highly likely that the news is sensationalized because of the current Covid-19 situation. It’s probably best not to speculate too much, as the potential impact on residential properties is not the most pressing issue at the moment.
According Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, this strategy aims mainly to reduce the risk of transmission if an outbreak happens again, so the government can respond to it more effectively. After all, during a pandemic, the immediate health and safety of Singaporeans and our foreign workforce are top priority.
Finally, it’s also worthy to note that while these dormitories will be nearer to our homes, they won’t actually be in the heart of residential enclaves.
"In proper context, I don’t think the minister means siting these dormitories right in the middle of residential towns. They probably just wanted to inform us that these dorms, while still on the fringes of residential towns, might need to move slightly closer," says Stuart.

Upcoming foreign worker dormitory sites

For those who want the exact locations and address, here’s the compiled list.
Unused state properties will be used as a temporary dormitory for foreign workers

Quick-build dormitory location sites:

  1. Admiralty Street
  2. Kranji Way
  3. Choa Chu Kang Way
  4. Choa Chu Kang Grove
  5. Tampines Industrial Ave 2
  6. Jalan Tukang
  7. 1 Tuas Ave 2
  8. Tuas South Ave 10

Unused state properties to be converted into foreign worker dormitories:

1
2 Perahu Road
North
Vacant state property
2
Tentage at National Service Resort & Country Club Kranji
North
Temporary tentage
3
25 Kranji Loop
North
Vacant factory
4
26A Sungei Kadut St 4
North
Vacant factory
5
36 Sungei Kadut St 1
North
Vacant factory
6
Former Fuchun Primary
North
Former school
7
Former Innova JC
North
Former school
8
Former Nexus International School
South/ Central
Former school
9
Former Mei Chin Primary and Secondary
South/ Central
Former school
10
Former New Town Secondary
South/ Central
Former school
11
Former Swiss Cottage School
South/ Central
Former school
12
36 Dunearn Road
South/ Central
Vacant state property
13
1 to 22 Redhill Close
South/ Central
Vacant state property
14
8 Lower Delta Road
South/ Central
Vacant state property
15
226 Outram Road
South/ Central
Vacant state property
16
191 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8
South/ Central
Vacant state property
17
28 Ayer Rajah Crescent
South/ Central
Vacant factory
18
Former Serangoon JC
East
Former school
19
Former Tampines JC
East
Former school
20
Former Greenview Secondary
East
Former school
21
Former Qiaonan Primary
East
Former school
22
Former Temasek Primary and Secondary
East
Former school
23
Former East East Primary
East
Former school
24
Former Bedok North Secondary
East
Former school
25
Former Chatsworth International School
East
Former school
26
Former Victoria School
East
Former school
27
120, 128, 130, 134, 136 and 138 Genting Lane
East
Vacant factory
28
429A Bedok North Road
East
Vacant state property
29
128 Tuas South Ave 3
West
Vacant factory
30
11C, 11D, 15A and 15B Tuas Road
West
Vacant factory
31
105 Gul Circle
West
Vacant factory
32
164 Gul Circle
West
Vacant factory
33
6 Neythal Road
West
Vacant factory
34
63 to 66 Yung Kuang Road
West
Vacant state property
35
90, 92 and 94 Kismis Ave
West
Vacant state property
36
Former Bukit Batok Primary
West
Former school
For more property news, content and resources, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.
Need help financing your latest property purchase? Let the mortgage experts at PropertyGuru Finance help you find the best deals.