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Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (LUSH) 2.0 Programme: Gross Floor Area (GFA) Exemption for Covered Communal Ground Gardens

  Published: 12 June 2014
Circular No : URA/PB/2014/15-DCG
Fax : 6227 4792


Who Should Know:
Architects, landscape architects, developers, building owners, and property managers

Effective Date:
With effect from 12 June 2014 till 9 November 2020

  1. To encourage generous provision of communal greenery, URA grants GFA exemption for communal landscaped areas on the ground level of developments. In 2009, the extent of GFA exemption was defined by a 45-degree line taken from the edge of the overhead projection. 
  2. To encourage more flexibility for developers to activate more green spaces, GFA exemption will now extend to additional covered areas at the ground level. The revised guidelines comprises two aspects.
    1. Predominant Covered Communal Ground Garden: GFA exemption can be granted to additional covered spaces at the ground level if these spaces provide substantial ground greenery with good spatial quality; or
    2. Secondary Covered Communal Ground Garden: The existing GFA exemption for Communal Landscaped Area under the 45-degree line at the first storey will continue to apply. This scheme will now be re-termed as Secondary Covered Communal Ground Garden.
  3. GFA exemption will be granted for Predominant Covered Communal Ground Gardens based on the following guiding principles:
    1. The communal ground garden should occupy a significant portion of the ground level space. As a guide, the covered garden areas (ie. the portion proposed for GFA exemption) should occupy at least half of the first storey building footprint;
    2. At least 60 per cent of the covered garden areas proposed for GFA exemption should be lushly landscaped. The remaining 40 per cent can be set aside for meaningful and effective communal gathering and activity spaces, and unenclosed communal facilities. These spaces may include garden paths, playgrounds, covered pools; and
    3. URA will also take into consideration the design, integration and spatial quality of the communal garden areas at the ground level and how it contributes towards the overall quality of the development.  A well designed garden should be bright and airy, and allow the open landscaped area to flow seamlessly into the covered areas.

      The figure below shows a top-down illustration of a communal garden at ground level:
  4. To enhance the quality of the environment, both covered and uncovered communal gardens should include suitable varieties of plants  in permanent and preferably sunken planting beds.
  5. The public and building users should be able to access communal gardens easily during operating hours1. GFA exemption will not be applicable to spaces tucked away in dark or inaccessible corners at the ground level, which are not conducive for landscaping and public use.
  6. While commercial spaces like Outdoor Refreshment Areas (ORAs) may be proposed within the covered communal gardens, these spaces will be computed as GFA. To prevent abuse, covered communal ground gardens proposed for GFA exemption should be designed to minimise easy conversion to usable commercial spaces. The communal garden also should not be easily enclosed and converted to other uses in future.


  1. The revised guidelines are effective from 12 June 2014. A landscape plan showing the proposed landscaping scheme for the entire ground level (both covered and uncovered) should be submitted as part of the development application for the Predominant Covered Communal Ground Garden. As part of the GFA exempted space could be outside the 45-degree line where there may be limited sunlight, the landscape plan should include a palette of suitable plant species that can thrive in a shady environment2. See Appendix 1 for more details.
  2. I would appreciate it if you could convey the contents of this circular to the relevant members of your organisation. If you or your members have any queries concerning this circular, please call our Development Control Group (DCG) Enquiry Line at Tel: 6223 4811 or email us at For your information, past circulars and guidelines are available at our website  
Thank You.


1 For example, the communal ground gardens in a shopping mall should be open and accessible to the public during the mall’s normal operating hours. Similarly, the communal ground gardens in an office development should be accessible to the larger office community and not limited to users of one specific office premises.

2 Please refer to the following publications for more detailed planting references:

a)      1001 Garden plants in Singapore (2nd edition)(2006), NParks

b)      CS E09:2012 - Guidelines on planting of trees, palms and tall shrubs on rooftop (2012), NParks

c)       A Selection of Plants for Green Roofs in Singapore 2nd Edition (2008), NParks

d)      Trees of our Garden City, 2nd edition (2009), NParks

e)       Concise Guides to Safe Practices on Rooftop Greenery and Vertical Greenery (2013), NParks



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