50 Singapore Academy of Law Journal (2008) 20 SAcLJ
old properties and redevelop them more intensively for sale at exorbitantprices.2
The policy supporting collective sales is linked to the city-state’ssevere land constraints. A land area of less than 700 sq km (about680 sq km) has to be shared among housing, recreation, industry,infrastructure, water catchment and military needs. The allocation of land uses in Singapore in 2005 showed 12% living space (housing). As at2005, only 12,000ha of land was available for future development. With aprojected population of 5.5 million in the future, about 8,000ha of landwill be needed for housing.
This requires an optimal use of Singapore’sscarcest resource, and collective sales are apparently a creative way of freeing up land and utilising increased plot ratios to realise the fulldevelopmental potential. The redevelopment of older estates hasapparently been achieved as statistics show that between January 2005and August 2007, the average age of developments applying for collectivesale was 25.9 years. Since 1999, almost 70% of developments sold
exceeded 20 years in age.
Collective sales have made millionaires, but environmental andsocial costs must not be forgotten. The physical destruction of buildingsmay lead to a loss of historical and architectural heritage. Collective salescan be a painful process leaving SPs feeling traumatised, saddened,angered and embittered. They are the “people who may not want to sellfor sentimental reasons, some who have sworn to their ancestors they willlive there forever, some like the
However, it is not possiblefor legislation to cater to all these views, short of requiring unanimousconsent to go
which will in turn make it harder to either maximiseland usage or to rejuvenate developments. The extent to which people goto keep their homes is demonstrated by the seven minority owners whospent S$2m on legal fees trying to keep their homes in Horizon Towers,where the
sale process became extremely acrimonious, protractedand costly.
3 Based on this projected population, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore came up with the Concept Plan 2001 embodying a vision for the next 40to 50 years. Conceived in 2001 and reviewed every ten years, it is a long-termstrategic plan that maps out the physical development of Singapore. A key proposalin the Concept Plan 2001 is new homes in familiar places.4 Figures released by the Law Minister reported in
The Straits Times
(21 September2007).5 The Deputy Prime Minister speaking at the Committee of Supply Debate on2 March 2007.6
The Straits Times
(6 November 2007).