Did you know that unlike other cities (especially the old towns), Singapore’s very orderly and structured city layout did not occur by chance but was the result of detailed planning by the authorities?
The need for urban planning actually first arose in 1822 (3 years after Sir Raffles founded Singapore) where the huge influx of foreign immigrants resulted in overcrowding, inadequate infrastructure and housing in the little colony. It was during then that Singapore very first town plan – the Raffles Town Plan was created.
After Sir Raffles passed away, with no updates and no new plans drawn up by the British, Singapore very soon outgrew itself, and the Raffles town plan, which focused only on the area which is Downtown Singapore today, proved inadequate. There were severe overcrowding problems, particularly in the Chinatown area, and the road system, planned for travel by foot and horse carts, also could not handle the exploding traffic, particularly when motorised vehicles came to Singapore en masse in the 1910s.
In 1927, the colonial government attempted to improve the situation by setting up the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT). However, their efforts were limited in certain areas, as the body did not have the legislative power to produce comprehensive plans or to control urban development. After the Housing Development Board (HDB) was founded in 1960 to replace the Singapore Improvement Trust, things improved significantly. Within five years, the HDB had constructed more than 50,000 housing units, which was several times more than the SIT had constructed within the time span of more than 20 years. Within the 1970s, most of the population had found adequate housing.
Today, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) holds the mantle for Singapore’s land use planning. To guide in the city’s land use development, URA comes out with the long term Concept Plan (30-40 years ahead), and the shorter term Master Plan, which are reviewed every 5 years. There are open galleries (free of charge) present in the lobbies of URA showcasing these plans as well as the top-level development plans for Singapore. There are even impressive mini landscape models for the whole of Singapore!
Do pop by and check them out!!