SINGAPORE – The public can look forward to more outdoor dining areas in shopping mall plazas and other outdoor atriums, with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday (June 3) signalling that it will now take a more liberal approach to granting approvals for private owners to use these for food and beverage functions.
This is a new position adopted by the authority following a review after its last guidelines were released in 2017, in the hope that this will empower the community to make public spaces more vibrant, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said on Friday.
Previously, such requests outside of the Orchard Road and Singapore River areas were rejected, as only these two areas were given special exemptions due to their significance to tourism.
More privately-owned spaces that are publicly accessible will now qualify.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of i Light Singapore, a light art festival held in Marina Bay that is organised by the URA, Mr Lee said the Government recognises that bringing people together to shared spaces makes a city more liveable and lovable.
“(It) goes beyond infrastructure plans,” he said. “The Government is committed to supporting the community to enliven public spaces.”
He said the URA will contribute to these ongoing efforts by granting more gross floor area owned by private owners for outdoor refreshment purposes.
“All developments that have maximised their development potential can propose new outdoor refreshment areas within the public spaces. We hope this will bring about even more meaningful public spaces, and better outdoor dining experiences for all to enjoy,” he said.
The new scheme applies to what the URA calls privately-owned public spaces, which are currently governed bystrict rules about their design and use, such as that at least 75 per cent of the total public space area must be a contiguous space that is regular in shape.
With the change, more exemptions from these rules will be made. URA said the scheme will be valid for five years, after which it will be reviewed for its effectiveness and relevance.
Examples of such spaces include the open square in front of the Payar Lebar Quarter and the outdoor atrium of Ngee Ann City.
The i Light festival was cancelled in the last two years due to the pandemic.