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Clarifications on Landed Housing Guidelines

  Published: 20 January 2022
  Theme: Inform (Guidelines)

Over the course of assessing development applications and addressing queries raised by Qualified Persons (QPs), we have distilled common points of clarification in relation to landed housing proposals specifically on envelope control, building form and plot sizes.

Envelope Control Guidelines

In July 2019, URA implemented guidelines on a two-year pilot basis to accord greater flexibility in the design of mezzanine floors and attics within the permissible building envelope of landed houses. The key points are as follows:

  1. Mezzanine: Mezzanine floors can constitute more than 50% of a typical floor plate, with no restrictions on window openings on the front facade of the mezzanine floors. The proposal for mezzanine floors should still ensure sufficient headroom for each floor level and result in good internal spatial quality for residential living.
  2. Attic: The attic can be flexibly proposed within the permissible two-storey and three-storey envelopes respectively. Accessible roof terraces, if proposed, should be located at least 3m below the top extent of the permissible building envelope. This allows for the staircase core serving the roof terrace as well as future roof covers by homeowners to be kept within the overall building envelope.

Following a review and engagement with industry practitioners, URA formally adopted these guidelines in July 2021, as they were generally well-received and industry practitioners and landed homeowners benefited from greater design flexibility. We also took the opportunity to clarify that proposals with more than one mezzanine will be assessed based on the merits of the proposal. This is in view that the insertion of multiple mezzanines that extend the full length of the house could result in low headroom and affect the quality of the internal living space (see example below).

Mezzanine diagram

The guidelines will apply to all proposals for new landed houses island-wide. Owners of existing houses (approved prior to or after the introduction of the envelope control guidelines) carrying out additions and alterations works can also take advantage of the revised guidelines. However, if the existing building is already higher or larger than the permissible two-storey and three-storey building envelope respectively, no further increase in building bulk would be supported for such additions and alterations works.

For more information on the latest envelope control guidelines, please refer to URA’s circular here.

Measuring Building Height

The maximum building height is 12m for a 2-storey landed housing area and 15.5m for a 3-storey landed housing area. Please refer to the ‘Landed Housing Area’ layer under the ‘Control Plans’ section of URA SPACE to find out the designated landed housing area of a particular address.

The building height is measured from the allowable external platform level of a site or the minimum platform level (MPL) stipulated by PUB at the road buffer and within common boundary setback areas.

In the scenario below, the site is within an existing low-lying area and the external platform level is 2m Singapore Height Datum (SHD) while PUB’s stipulated MPL is 4m SHD. The building height is measured from the MPL, which is the higher of the two.

Side elevation diagram
Side elevation of landed house

For sloping sites where there is an existing level difference within the site, the allowable building height will be determined through the use of a sloping building envelope measured from the allowable external platform levels at the front and rear setback lines. All building structures (including any exposed basement arising from the sloping site) should be contained within this resultant sloping envelope:

Side elevation diagram
Side elevation of landed house

Minor Protrusions from Envelope Control Profile

The envelope control profile is defined by the maximum allowable building height and building setbacks. QPs have the flexibility to design the various features of the house as long as it is kept within the permissible envelope control profile. Only features such as car porch roofs, roof eaves, ledges, screen walls between adjoining houses (e.g. semi-detached, terrace houses), safety railings/parapets and lift overruns are allowed beyond the envelope control profile (see diagram below for illustration).

Side elevation diagram
Side elevation of landed house

Please refer to the ‘Building Setback from Boundary’ and ‘Building Appendages’ sections of the relevant development control handbooks here for more details.

Integrated Building Form

A landed house should be designed as a single dwelling house. Even as homes expand to accommodate multiple generations under the same roof, the layout and form of the different spaces within a landed house should continue to be well-integrated to resemble a single house with common family facilities and should not be designed as separate or disjointed living units.

For example, the original proposal below comprising a main house and an independent secondary unit was assessed to not qualify as a single dwelling unit. This proposal was not supported as there was insufficient physical and functional integration (e.g. shared accesses and common family facilities) between both houses. The proposal was thus revised to provide better integration and shared accesses between the spaces, with the new extension accessible through the main house.

Building form proposal
Original proposal
Building form proposal
Revised proposal

Design of Accesses

  1. Access to upper storeys within the house

    To ensure that a landed house functions as a single dwelling unit, vertical circulation spaces such as staircases and lifts to the upper storeys should be located within the house (as shown below).

    Access design

  2. Access to basements within the house

    URA can allow independent staircases to/from the basement to discharge at the 1st storey if these are required to meet SCDF’s fire escape requirements. However, this should not be the sole access to/from the basement level and there should still be another set of staircases or lift provided within the internal space of the house that connects the various storeys.

Determining Plot Configuration, Sizes and Road Buffer for Multiple Units

In developing a site for multiple units of landed houses, the nett area (i.e. area after vesting of road, drainage reserve etc.) of the plots of the proposed landed houses need to meet the minimum plot sizes. The minimum plot sizes for the various landed housing typologies can be found in the relevant development control handbooks here.

Accordingly, the minimum plot width will also be assessed based on the nett plot configuration (i.e. after vesting).

Proposed developments on all the plots will need to observe the requisite road buffer from the road reserve line fronting the development boundary, even if the development site fronts two Category 5 roads. Requests for 2m side setback from any road frontage will be considered based on the merits of the proposal and the site context.

Banner photo by Allkayloh from Wikimedia Commons