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How to use the URA Master Plan Singapore

Is the Area You're Staying at Going to Huat?

profileXue Miao

In Singapore, we typically have a few financial milestones.

In fact, we are usually frequently reminded of these milestones during family gatherings.

“When are you getting married?”

“When are you getting your house?”

“When are you having kids?”

Source: Giphy

Jokes aside, purchasing a home is a huge step for most of us.

And some of us might be looking to use our property as a means of investment.

If you’re looking to purchase a new property, you might be taking note of the amenities nearby the residential area.

But wouldn’t it be great if you could take a peek into the future of your district?

That’s exactly what you can do with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Master Plan.

What Is the URA Master Plan?

Source: URA

The URA Master Plan guides Singapore’s land use and development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years.

It showcases the forecast of the development of land and property in Singapore and is reviewed every five years.

With this information being laid out for us on the Master Plan, we will be able to see the strategic decisions that have been made at different precincts in the near future.

As such, the Master Plan is incredibly useful in helping you make your property decisions.

For instance, if you’re interested in the Queenstown project in the upcoming BTO project, you can zoom into the Queenstown area to check out its upcoming surrounding features.

When you first navigate the URA Master Plan, it can look a bit cheem (read: difficult) with all the different terminologies and colours sprawled across the map.

Source: Giphy

Don’t worry, here’s a quick crash course when it comes to using the URA Master Plan to your advantage.

Let’s go!

TL;DR: How To Read the URA Master Plan and Use It Like a Pro

Important things to understand:

  • Gross Plot Ratio
  • Legend

Legends and zones to take note of:

  • Residential zone
  • Commercial zone
  • Education Institution
  • Industrial zone
  • Places of worship

Gross Plot Ratio: The Numbers You See on the Map

Source: URA

One thing you might’ve noticed on the map would be these numbers on it.

These numbers are what is called the Gross Plot Ratio (GPR).

The Gross Plot Ratio basically refers to how dense a plot of land could be.

Essentially, the higher the ratio, the higher the maximum number of storeys a building can go.

For Residential zones, the maximum number of storeys for flats and condominium developments are as follows:

Gross Plot Ratio (GPR)Maximum Number of Storeys
> 2.8> 36

As a rule of thumb, most would look at the plot ratio surrounding their desired property to get a sense of potential developments nearby.

For instance, if you’re planning to own a high-level unit with a current unobstructed view, but the piece of land right in front of your building has a high GPR…

This means that this piece of land has not been fully optimised and might one day have something built that could obstruct the views you originally have.

As such, this piece of information would be helpful when it comes to selecting your flat direction and level.

How to Read the Colours (or Legends)

At first look, you can tell that the map is… very colourful.

Different sections are denoted by different colours, which represents the different types of land use.

Here’s a quick look at the legends that are currently used in the latest Master Plan:

These colours would allow you to take note of potential developments around your property.

There are a few zones that are usually being scrutinised by the people who use the Master Plan, and we will be taking a look at them.

1) Residential Zones

Source: Giphy

What’s one thing that Singaporeans hate?


If you’re someone who loves competing in anything and everything, do keep a lookout for the residential zones surrounding your desired property.

Like what’s mentioned above, if you have plots of land with a higher plot ratio located right next to your property of interest and is currently still empty, you might be faced with the issue of having future residences towering over your building.

This could not only affect both rentability and sale due to an increase of competitors (more supply of apartments), but could also cause an obstruction of the unblocked views.

Which could have an effect on the property’s value as well.

2) Commercial Zones

Source: PropertyGuru

I remember heading to my friend’s house and was amazed by how it was sitting above a shopping mall.

She could take a lift at one of the mall’s exits and it would lead straight to her condominium.

If you’re someone who likes a mixed-use development or likes to have the convenience of a mall right beside you, you can keep a lookout for commercial zones.

The biggest advantage of staying in such areas would be the proximity to the amenities that are provided by such developments.

This convenience tends to also result in properties having a higher demand and have great property value.

That could be something to look out for if you’re someone who plans to rent out your rooms or sell your property.

That being said, properties close to commercial zones tend to come at a higher price tag.

Also, noise and traffic congestion could also be a disadvantage for these areas.

3) Education Institutions

Source: Giphy

For homeowners with children, there will be priority admission given to those staying in a property close to their preferred school.

For the uninitiated, priority admission is given in this order:

  1. Singapore Citizens (SC) living within 1km of the school
  2. SCs living between 1km and 2km of the school
  3. SCs living outside 2km of the school
  4. Permanent Residents (PR) living within 1km of the school
  5. PRs living between 1km and 2km of the school
  6. PRs living outside 2km of the school

For those who are not planning to have children, staying near an education institution could increase its property value as well.

If it is near a primary school, there will always be a demand from new parents.

If it is near a tertiary institution, its reliability would increase due to the demand from students.

That being said, the few downsides are similar to that of the ones near a commercial space – higher pricing and congestion during peak hours.

4) Industrial Zones

Source: Giphy

Industrial zones are also usually observed while looking at the Master Plan.

For this, it is usually segregated into two different legends.

The different indicators (Business 1 and 2) refers to the cleanliness of the industry.

Business 1 which refers to light industries, and Business 2 which refers to heavier industries.

Most people tend to avoid these areas for obvious reasons.

However, for those who are looking at a place which is located right beside an industrial zone, rest assured that even a heavy industry zone doesn’t mean the area will be heavily polluted.

In fact, there are strict regulations in the allowable types of industry in these areas.

Most heavy-duty businesses are also situated far away at designated industrial areas like Jurong Island.

Furthermore, staying near an industrial zone could increase its rental demand because of the higher number of workers working in these areas.

5) Places of Worship

For devotees, staying near a place of worship would offer convenience.

However, these areas may sometimes be avoided due to practical reasons.

For instance, living close to a place of worship would mean higher levels of congestion and noise during festival periods.

Also, for places of worship, the praying area would be the predominant use and should be at least 50% of the total floor area of the development.

This means that the rest of the floor area could be used for other purposes.

For instance, there was a saga back in 2015 where Sengkang residents were not too happy when there was a planned columbarium near their homes.

As such, some might err on the side of caution when it comes to choosing a property close to a place of worship.

6) White Sites

Source: URA

White sites are sectioned to be flexible in terms of usage and are usually used for integrated development.

This could mean having amenities such as retail spaces, offices, sports and recreational facilities or hotels, making it a destination for living, work and play.

White sites are generally welcomed given their attractiveness and how they would potentially raise the prices of properties nearby.

Do Not Fully Depend on the URA Master Plan for Your Property Decision

Source: Tenor

The URA Master Plan is very useful for us to take a glimpse into the future development of the different precincts.

When it comes to selecting an apartment (easily one of the biggest purchases of our lives), we should compare not just current amenities, but also those that are likely to pop up in a couple of years.

That being said, what’s listed in today’s URA Master Plan might not 100% be translated to reality in the future.

Based on the feasibility of projects, some plans might be modified along the way during the reviews that happen every five years.

It is therefore advised for the URA Master Plan as a point of reference along with other materials!

Property Planning Can Be Difficult, but It Does Not Have To Be

Buying a property is such an intimidating part of #adulting, but it does not have to be.

Even with zero knowledge, we can all start somewhere.

And lucky for us, there are various guides that are available for us today!

Be it having BTO knowledge all broken down for us, knowing whether we can afford to upgrade to a private apartment, or looking for options to purchase an apartment as a single

There’s a simple guide for everyone for everything.

And if you need advice for anything related to property, you can get to tap on the knowledge of experienced property owners (even property investors) now as well!

About Xue Miao
A millennial who is learning to adult. She doesn't believe in the rat race and hopes to live on a farm someday.
You can contribute your thoughts like Xue Miao here.

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