Friday, February 1, 2013

Golf courses to make way for housing needs

Singapore's 18 golf courses occupy some 1,500ha of land, which can be redeveloped

The Straits Times
February 1, 2013

SEVERAL sprawling golf courses will be cut up, moved or closed as the Government seeks land to house Singapore's growing population by 2030.

The Land Use Plan yesterday confirmed what many golfers had been fearing for several years: that the leases for their golf clubs might not be renewed.

The plan did not specify which of the country's 18 golf clubs - occupying some 1,500ha of land - would have to make way for redevelopment, but Keppel Club and the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) are tipped to be at the top of the list.

Both have eight years to run on their leases.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Law, which oversees the Singapore Land Authority, said the courses here are generally on a 30-year lease, and the majority of the leases will expire by 2030.

"Some golf courses would have to be phased out and the land put to other uses. For these golf courses, we would not be able to extend the lease," she said, adding that the ministry is now working with planning agencies to determine which golf courses can have their leases extended.

At least one club, Laguna National, is safe for now as it secured a lease extension last year to remain in its Tanah Merah location until 2040. Part of the deal, however, includes building a new hotel on its grounds.

While the Keppel Club has declined comment, its members told The Straits Times that they have been warned that the lease is not likely to be renewed.

This is because it sits on prime land just across from Sentosa, and the Keppel area has also been identified as a potential redevelopment site under the plan, though no further details were given.

Members were told of three possible outcomes: that the club might be relocated to Lorong Halus; moved to an empty plot in Seletar; or be allowed to lease one of SICC's courses.

Meanwhile, an SICC spokesman said it is still waiting for its landlord, the national water agency PUB, to give more details on lease renewal after writing in a number of times.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said carving up SICC makes sense, given that it is the only one with four 18-hole courses.

SLP International's head of research Nicholas Mak added that the move was to be expected as such courses benefit a small minority.

He said: "Golfers, who make a small minority of the proposed 6.9 million people, can head to Malaysia if need be.

"Singapore must use its limited land in an efficient manner, to better handle the future."

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