The move to exclude new residences in part of Geylang will not change the red-light area’s character, said the MP of the area, Mr Edwin Tong.
Instead, he expects more shops and restaurants to set up there. “That’s the sort of thing we’re looking at, making it more of a retail space,” he told The Straits Times.
The area, currently classified as a “residential/institution” zone, is bounded by Geylang Road, Lorong 22 Geylang, Guillemard Road and Lorong 4 Geylang and is home to a mix of private properties, shophouses, places of worship, eateries, hotels and even brothels.
Last week, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that it will be rezoned to “commercial/institution”, which bars new residential projects in the area.
“This is to minimise the issues arising from incompatibility of uses and friction between residential and non-residential uses in the area,” said the URA.
It said it had received complaints from residents about noise, littering, traffic congestion and illegal parking “arising from the many activities in this neighbourhood”.
Since existing properties are not affected, the overall character of the neighbourhood may not change much, said Mr Tong. Most of the reaction he received to the rezoning news came from residents living near the affected area.
“The main questions are about what the new tenants will be,” Mr Tong said.
He has barely heard from any residents in the zone itself.
There are about 1,000 homes there, with another 300 or so being built.
Owner-occupiers are rare enough that, for instance, there are no grassroots volunteers living in that area.
“A lot of those apartments are rented out but the owners live nearby,” said Madam Annie Lim, 57, a member of the Neighbourhood Committee on the opposite side of Geylang Road.
Customer service manager Kang Ngee Wi, 41, lives at Wing Fong Court in Lorong 14. He doubts the rezoning will affect him, but wonders why it was necessary.
The location is good, amenities such as supermarkets are nearby, and new residents must surely expect unsavoury goings-on to come with the territory, he said. “In this type of area, what do you expect?”
Chef Ng Kiang Hui, 54, who also lives at Wing Fong Court, is similarly unfazed. Scuffles sometimes break out in the street, but only among foreign workers. “They only fight each other,” he said.
Engineering assistant Martin Loo, 55, has booked a unit at new development Le Regal but does not plan to live there when it is completed by 2016.
For him, the rezoning bodes well: “It should fetch a decent rental as it is easier to rent out any unit with more commercial activities near the precinct.”