Singapore to engage public in review of long-term approach to land use, city planning next month: Desmond Lee

Victor Kang22 Jun 2021

Singapore condo

Lee noted that the city-state has to review its approach to land use and city planning as the pandemic underscored the need to relook the design of homes and workplaces. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way people live, work and play, it is important for land-scarce Singapore to be adaptable in city planning and to have land that can be easily converted to other uses, reported The Straits Times (ST) citing National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

Speaking at the opening of the World Cities Summit, the minister revealed that public engagement for the country’s Long-Term Plan Review (LTPR) – which is reviewed every 10 years – will kick start next month.

Formerly known as the Concept Plan, the LTPR guides the city-state’s development in the next 50 years and was last reviewed in 2011.

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Lee noted that the city-state has to review its approach to land use and city planning as the pandemic underscored the need to relook the design of homes and workplaces as well as the amount of office space needed given the rise in remote working arrangements.

“The pandemic has shown that we also need to buffer some ‘white space’ that can be quickly adapted for emergencies,” he said as quoted by ST.

Former schools and convention centres, for instance, have been converted to quarantine and community care facilities, while community centres that were initially used to distribute TraceTogether tokens and masks are now used as vaccination centres, shared Lee.

The minister added that the pandemic also highlighted the need to keep cities connected and liveable.

“The pandemic has kept people within the city but away from crowded urban and indoor areas. Parks and green spaces have thus become important places for many Singaporeans to seek respite and recreation,” he noted.

And given the decline in in-person interaction, digital connectivity has been vital for people to continue learning and working, including with overseas partners, said Lee. He cited the summit – which is being conducted in a hybrid format – as an example.

To end on Wednesday (23 June), the World Cities Summit is being held online as well as in person at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Other takeaways from the pandemic include the importance of trust all throughout the society, government leadership and active community involvement.

“An effective pandemic response requires citizens to make sacrifices, which they will only accept if they trust that these are for the greater good,” explained Lee.

“Trust is hard to build but easy to lose. And a crisis can easily divide a society if everyone only looks out for themselves.”

He noted that Singapore should be prepared that the COVID-19 virus may become endemic. With this, the government has been ramping up testing, contact tracing and vaccination in a bid to identify and isolate cases earlier to protect Singaporeans from the worst effects of COVID-19.

“If we can do this well, we can then open up activities even further. But this will take time, and hard work,” said Lee. “In other words, we still have quite a journey ahead of us.”


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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email:


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