Monday, 17 September 2007

Banning Enblocs on Newer Buildings

It is rare to see a reader-submitted letter on enblocs in the Sunday Times, so it's interesting to see Mr John Lee Junshi's letter in the Inbox where he advocated that newer buildings should be banned from enblocs. At least until their 20th birthday. You can read that entire letter reproduced here.

His words:-
"The proposed amendments could have done better by prohibiting the collective sale of buildings that are less than 20 years old, and making the collective sale of buildings progressively easier for buildings 20 years and older.

For example, by requiring 80 per cent share value approval for buildings that are at least 20 years old but less than 30 years old; 75 per cent approval for buildings at least 30 years old but less than 40 years old and so on.

This formula will ensure that there is a balance between environmental concerns and urban renewal."

I actually submitted something along the same lines to MinLaw during the public consultation - a staggered method of calculating consent level based on the age of the buildings, rather than the simple 10 year mark as is currently implemented, and which is kept for the new amendments. Guess my suggestion got fed to the shredder :)

But I added additional clauses to the model. You see, while the idea of a staggered consent level is one way to go, it does not take into consideration the possibility that older buildings may not necessarily be more blighted, or decrepit, or rundown. I'm always heartened when I see 30+ year old condos that are well kept, very well maintained, upgraded consistently over the years with new lifts, improved security, renovated common hallways/gardens etc. When an effort is made on the part of owners who wish to keep their estate in pristine condition regardless of age, they should not be penalised by the possibility of the wrecking ball. So I suggested that if an estate has undergone substantial renovation/upgrading, they could apply for a 'stay order' against enblocs. In other words, it would be as if time has reset itself.

This point is important - owners should be given the possibility to take ownership of their own estate in two ways - not just in collectively selling (current mode) but collectively deciding to upgrade/renovate their estate (not in current mode or Mr Lee's letter). Should the latter happen, they should be rewarded with at least 10 years of enjoying their newly done up estate. A building inspector can certify such a renovation as being one that is substantial to formalise the stay order.

If estates in global cities like New York, London, Paris can be kept in pristine condition despite them being over 50-100 years old, why not in Singapore?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr John Lee Junshi is a hypocrite. Here he talks about balancing between 'environmental concerns and urban renewal', and yet he's the chairman of botanic gardens view sales committee that is pushing very hard to get the entire estate, THAT WAS RECENTLY UPGRADED, demolished!

Here's an ulterior motive. If his suggestion goes through, our wonderfully kept estate of 30+ years would only require 75% for him to get his windfall! I prefer Dr Minority's suggestion of adding a 'stay order' to ban en-blocs on newly renovated estates, no matter the age.