LTA launches initiatives to cut red tape and approval times for builders and developers

SINGAPORE – The authorities are looking to cut red tape and shorten approval times for construction works that impact the roads, rail and other transport modes by adopting initiatives proposed by a joint government-industry panel.

Architects, engineers and builders will also receive more training through courses and webinars to build their capabilities, including familiarity with technical and regulatory requirements for paperwork to reduce time wasted from incomplete submissions.

These moves will improve the quality of plans submitted to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), potentially shaving weeks off the approval process and lowering costs, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat on Thursday (Sept 16).

To this end, a scheme where some plans can be approved more quickly will be extended to more types of projects, the LTA said.

Currently, the scheme applies to simpler projects, such as plans for vehicle parking and street works, that are more straightforward. About 10 per cent of plans received by the LTA today fall in this category.

“We will also consider suggestions from the industry to progressively expand the scheme to include more complex submissions,” the LTA added.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with the Transport Infrastructure Collaboration Panel, which comprises representatives from the LTA, the Association of Consulting Engineers Singapore, Institute of Engineers (IES), Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), Mr Chee said the submissions made to the LTA can be uneven in quality and completeness.

Rejecting these applications and requiring them to be re-submitted is a “lose-lose” situation, he said. Many iterations may need to be made before they are approved.

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“It’s bad for the LTA not to be able to approve them (and) it’s also bad for the applicant because they can’t proceed.

“This could lead to a lot of delays and added costs,” he said.

To address this, the LTA has held webinars for industry professionals since last year, and released a series of guides to explain the principles behind certain requirements and provide examples of good practices and common mistakes.

The topics covered include the design of vehicle access points to residential developments and the specifications for building covered walkways.

A new guide on loading and unloading bays was launched on Thursday.

There are also plans to launch an induction course next year to help fresh graduates and those new to the industry familiarise themselves with the LTA’s rules and codes.

Mr Chee said the panel is currently looking at how the industry can better recognise those who have a good track record and attained the highest standards.

SIA president Richard Lai said another initiative that was discussed is to register qualified transport impact assessment specialists or engineers who specialise in road works with the LTA, as this could further streamline the authority’s approval process.

IES emeritus president Chong Kee Sen said communication between the industry and the authorities is key.

“We want to get things done quickly, efficiently and safely, but the interpretation of regulations and the perspectives can be quite different.”

Mr Lai gave the example of carpark design.

“Nowadays, we are building on very small land spaces and we need to really optimise our land use as much as possible. But in doing so, we may infringe on certain codes,” he said. “Through all these dialogues… we can work together to see how we can reach an agreement to get the best product out.”

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He said the time needed to get plans approved can span weeks and months.

“With these measures in place, definitely it will save the practitioner a lot of time and it will save LTA a lot of time,” he added.


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