Religious organisations are not allowed to exclusively lease or own commercial premises, according to recently released guidelines.

Concerns have now emerged on the future of the City Harvest Church with its $310-million stake in Suntec Singapore, and of the business arm of New Creation Church, which has partnered with CapitaMalls Asia for the construction of a $1-billion lifestyle hub in One North.

According to the URA, the Civic, Cultural and Retail Complex located at One North is sanctioned as a “mixed development for civic, cultural and commercial uses”, which means the auditorium should be run by Rock Productions, the business arm of New Creation Church, on a commercial basis and should be open for rental with no restrictions.

“However, non-exclusive and limited religious use can be allowed based on our guidelines,” said a spokeswoman for URA.

As for the City Harvest Church deal with Suntec City, the URA spokeswoman stated that it was a “private matter between the two parties.” While the URA is not informed about the details of the transaction, the spokeswoman said that Suntec City was a legitimate commercial development and the use of the premises must conform to this, “regardless of ownership.”

A spokesperson for City Harvest Church said it is now reviewing the implications of the guidelines and will give a “substantive response” soon.