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Developers encouraged to vary sizes of housing units in new projects

URA's reply, 3 May 2018

We refer to the recent letters expressing concern over more small apartment units (commonly known as shoebox units) in new developments (Stop trend of building shoebox units, by Mr Koh Ban Aik, April 15; Apartments must not be smaller than 70 sq m, by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi, April 25).

The Urban Redevelopment Authority currently sets the maximum permissible number of housing units for a development outside the central area by dividing the development's proposed building gross floor area by 70 sq m.

Under this approach, developers are encouraged to vary the sizes of the housing units that they propose in a development to cater to the diverse needs of the market.

We agree that shoebox units should not form a disproportionately large portion of Singapore's housing stock.

We are monitoring the trend closely and will adjust the guidelines if needed.

Goh Chin Chin (Ms)
Group Director (Development Control)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

Letter, 25 Apr 2018, Straits Times

Apartments must not be smaller than 70 sq m

With the collective sales fever raging, Singaporeans may have to compromise by living in million-dollar shoebox units, not because of smaller family sizes or for cosiness, but because decent-sized homes are too expensive to afford (En bloc effect: Smaller shoebox units?; April 11).

The Urban Redevelopment Authority guidelines use the proposed building gross floor area divided by 70 sq m to compute the maximum number of units allowed per development, without specifying the minimum unit size.

Moreover, the formula emphasises only the "average" of an aggregate of sizes per development, but fails to mandate 70 sq m as the size for a shoebox unit or to restrict the number of such units allowed.

Smart developers can circumvent the formula and maximise profits by designing apartments of various sizes, which will then meet the "average" requirement.

For instance, half of the 309 units in the Margaret Ville condominium are around 65 sq m or smaller.

In another private development, The Tapestry, over 500 of the 861 units are 65 sq m or smaller.

The trend does not bode well for our city. We should not shrink our living spaces further.

It is imperative to mandate that 70 sq m be the minimum size of a unit, and that such units should not make up more than 35 per cent of the units in a development.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

Letter, 15 Apr 2018, Straits Times

Stop trend of building shoebox units

The current collective sale fever in Singapore is a cause for concern (En bloc effect: Smaller shoebox units?; April 11).

Developers are bidding for land at ridiculously high prices, with the hope of reaping huge profits when they sell the units. But, as bigger units are generally unaffordable, they are building smaller units to fit the budgets of Singaporeans.

Some developers build only units that are 70 sq m. The Government should not allow this, but ask developers to build apartments of various sizes to suit the needs of the various buyers.

We cannot let the greed and profit motive of developers set the trend now and for the future. Once such a trend becomes the norm, public housing will also follow. The net effect will be public flats that are even smaller than 70 sq m.

In the long run, this will create social problems and discontent. Is Singapore really so short of land that we have to build such small units? Do we have to follow the Hong Kong model in our housing development?

I hope the Urban Redevelopment Authority can comment on this.

Koh Ban Aik