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Revision to the Balcony Incentive Scheme for Private Non-Landed Residential Developments

  Published: 17 October 2018
Circular No : URA/PB/2018/07-DCG


Who Should Know:
Flat and condominium owners, developers, architects, and engineers

Effective Date:
With effect from 17 January 2019

  1. URA introduced the Balcony Incentive Scheme (BIS) in 2001 to encourage balconies, private enclosed spaces (PES)1 and private roof terraces (PRT)2, collectively known as private outdoor spaces, in private non-landed residential developments. URA will be revising the BIS guidelines to:
    1. Improve the sizes and locations of private outdoor spaces;
    2. Provide homebuyers more choices of units with and without private outdoor spaces; and
    3. Improve developers’ communication to homeowners on allowable balcony screens.
  1. The BIS was introduced to enable residents to access outdoor spaces from their homes. It also sought to facilitate high-rise greenery to improve the quality of the living environment. However, we have observed that some developments today have excessively large balconies in relation to the size of the indoor spaces of a unit. We have also received feedback from homebuyers who prefer units without balconies that it is challenging to find such units in the market, especially in new developments.
  1. Some homeowners have also highlighted that they are unsure about the type of screens allowed at their balconies3 even though developers have sought approval from URA for the designs of such screens at the development application stage. There is therefore scope to improve the manner in which developers communicate the approved screen designs for balconies to homeowners upfront. The latest changes to our guidelines are made in response to the above observations and feedback.

Revised Guidelines for Private Outdoor Spaces under the BIS

The revised guidelines are as follows:

Reduction of Bonus Gross Floor Area (GFA) Cap for Private Outdoor Spaces

  1. The bonus GFA cap for these spaces in residential developments will be reduced from 10% to 7%.
  1. With this revision, developers can still achieve up to 10% bonus GFA beyond the Master Plan-allowable Gross Plot Ratio by qualifying for other incentive schemes, such as the Green Mark Bonus GFA Scheme and the new Indoor Recreation Space Bonus GFA Scheme.
  1. As per current practice, all additional GFA granted under the bonus GFA incentive schemes will not form the future development potential of the site.

Size and Width Requirements for Balconies4

  1. To address public feedback that some balconies are oversized, the total balcony area(s) for each unit will be capped at 15% of the nett internal area5. This will ensure that these balconies are not disproportionately large relative to the main unit.
  1. Each balcony is to have a minimum width of 1.5 metres as measured from the external building wall to enable it to function as a meaningful outdoor space. URA is prepared to consider exceptions to the width requirement based on the design merit of the proposal, such as a curved or odd-shaped balcony.

Screens for Balconies

  1. Currently, developers are to seek approval from URA for the designs of balcony screens as part of the development application process. Although the screen designs are submitted upfront, the developer has the option to choose whether to install the screens. In cases where the screens are not installed upfront by the developer, the approved screen design is intended for use by the Management Corporation (MCST) to guide the installation of screens by individual owners.
  1. Developers will now be required to inform homebuyers of the allowable balcony screens at the point of purchase, through the following measures:
    1. Install the approved screen in its actual scale in the sales gallery and/or show unit, if a sales gallery and/or show unit are erected for the development (see Appendix 1). Developers are to submit a Letter of Undertaking for this purpose at the development application stage (see Appendix 2).
    2. Explicitly state in the unit floor plan in Form 36 that “Balconies are not to be enclosed except with a balcony screen which has been approved and complies with the Competent Authority’s guidelines”.
    3. Provide homebuyers the option to have the approved screen pre-installed at their balconies7. This option is to be offered via a side letter at the point of issuance of the Option to Purchase (see Appendix 3).


  1. The revised guidelines for private outdoor spaces will supersede the corresponding controls of the previous guidelines and will apply to all new applications for private non-landed residential developments (including Executive Condominiums) and the residential component of mixed-use projects submitted on or after 17 January 2019. The revised guidelines will not apply to formal development applications (excluding Outline Applications) submitted before 17 January 2019 which have already been granted Provisional Permission or which will result in a Provisional Permission. An overview of the guidelines on private outdoor spaces, including those introduced in this circular, is found in Appendix 4.
  1. I would appreciate it if you could convey the contents of this circular to your members. We have updated the same in the Development Control Handbooks.You are advised to refer to these Handbooks for the most updated guidelines and procedures instead of referring to past circulars. For other information on the master plan, urban design guidelines, private property use and approval, car park locations and availability, private residential property transactions, and conservation areas and buildings, use URA SPACE (Service Portal and Community e-Services). This is an online portal packed with useful data and visualisation to help building professionals, business operators and the general public in their decision-making. It consolidates detailed information on land use and private property into a one-stop platform presented on geospatial maps. For feedback or enquiries, please email us.        
Thank You.


1 PES are generally open-sided private spaces used for garden and outdoor living at the first storey of flats and condominium developments.

2 PRT are usable, semi-outdoor private spaces on the roof of flats and condominium developments.

3 To ensure that balconies remain as outdoor spaces and are not converted into indoor spaces, the installation of screening for private outdoor spaces is allowed if the screens (a) can be drawn open or retracted fully and (b) allow for natural ventilation/air flow within the private outdoor spaces at all times, even when fully drawn.

4 PES and PRTs will not be subject to the above guidelines.

5 This excludes voids, balconies, air-conditioner ledges and other external areas.

6 Form 3 is required under rule 10(4) of Housing Developer Rules, and comprises the particulars, documents and information which are to be provided to purchasers prior to the Option to Purchase.

7 This is not applicable for developers who choose to pre-install approved screens for all balconies in the development.

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