Sunday, April 19, 2009

BTO: URA to spread wings

Business Times - 18 Apr 2009

URA to spread wings

It will take expertise overseas while bringing places alive at home



AFTER 35 years of planning and shaping Singapore's physical landscape, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is ready for a bigger canvas. It has set set up a URA Consulting Group (URACG) to provide its planning expertise for projects overseas. Meanwhile, at home, it will make new places in Singapore come alive. After Marina Bay, the Singapore River could be the next to feel its energising touch.


At the URA Corporate Plan Seminar yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan spoke of how the master planner would step up its 'place management' role. This meant combining the resources of the public and private sectors to create places, districts and areas that are more vibrant economically and socially, he said. In addition to URA's role as master planner and infrastructure provider, the stat board will also work with stakeholders on 'softer' initiatives such as branding, marketing and events programming, he said.


Mr Mah noted that URA is already undertaking the place management of Marina Bay. It will expand its portfolio to include the Singapore River. In addition, it will chair a coordinating forum to 'synergise the place management efforts of partner agencies at Orchard Road and also the Civic District-Bras Basah/Bugis areas', he added.


The formation of URACG would help URA playing a bigger role outside Singapore's shores.

'Our planning expertise is very much sought after outside of Singapore. In fact, it has played a leading role in the master planning of projects like the Tianjin Eco-City, which is now being built, which has drawn on Singapore's experience in integrated planning and urban management,' Mr Mah said.


Elaborating, a URA spokeswoman said URACG's priority will be to support the Singapore government in government-to-government level projects overseas which require master planning expertise. In addition, URA can partner local private companies, where suitable, to carry out consultancy work for big projects. URACG's scope of services will generally include concept and master planning, urban design and development control processes.


Another role of URACG is to provide professional development training on urban planning and related matters for both local and international participants under the Urban Leadership Programme. URA recently conducted a four-day training programme on integrated land use planning for participants from Brunei, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, China and Singapore.

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