Three sites in Balestier and Queenstown are scheduled for redevelopment into residential housing developments under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) 2019 Master Plan.
Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) sites: What are they?
HDB flats are public housing for Singaporeans. Flats built in prime districts tend to be coveted due to their desirable location (proximity to the city centre). Many see it as a good opportunity for a property flip to rake in the profits.
To prevent this, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Housing & Development Board (HDB) launched the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model.
Under this model, flats built in prime, central locations such as the city centre and Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) sites come with extensive conditions, such as subsidy clawbacks and stricter eligibility requirements to keep the housing situation fair and affordable.
The very first PLH project in Rochor was up for ballot in the November 2021 BTO sales launch. It featured fantastic accessibility to MRT stations, with Jalan Besar MRT situated directly in front of the plot.
The price was also equally eye-popping, opening at S$582,000 for a 4-room flat. Within two days, it racked up a subscription rate of 4.6 for the 4-room flats and ended with an overall rate of 10.3.
90 and 92 Jalan Rajah in Balestier, a sub-zone in Novena, is one of the sites marked for redevelopment.
Australian-based Curtin University currently occupies the plot of land, with plans to move to The Alpha building in Science Park 2 near Haw Par Villa when its lease ends in mid-2022.
One of Curtin University’s four international campuses, Curtin Singapore first opened its doors in 2008. The school is currently consulting with staff, students and stakeholders on the design of the new campus before they leave the premises to make way for the new Balestier BTO.
Resale prices in Balestier-Novena
Resale flats in the Balestier-Novena area have experienced a 22.49% increase in the average price psf over the past decade, pegging closely to the 22.35% increase across all HDB towns.
The last BTO project in Balestier was McNair Heights, located along Balestier Road and McNair Road. 626 units were launched in the previous year in February after a two-year hiatus.
Looking at the area, there are a tonne of condos and flats packed into its surroundings and very few open spaces, which may not be ideal for families with children.
While Balestier lies in the prime district of Novena, it’s bordering closer to Toa Payoh than Tanglin, which means it’s further away from the city centre.
What’s near the Balestier site?
Food and retail
Balestier Road is an 11-minute walk away, with a row of eateries to pick from, including the famous Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice.
There’s a FairPrice 850m away for daily amenities near the Whampoa Community Club.
If you’re looking for a complete shopping experience, take a 7-minute drive to Novena MRT, where Square 2, Royal Square Novena, and Velocity are located in a cluster.
If you’re someone who needs constant exposure to fresh air and green fields to frolic around, you might baulk a little at the site’s location. There is just one park nearby – Toa Payoh Town Park is 1km away.
Developed in the 70s, the small park oozes old-school charm with its quaint stone-paved bridges and rustic-looking gazebos.
PCF Whampoa is a 12-minute walk away, which isn’t too far. Other schools include Hong Wen school (a 7-minute drive), Northlight school (an 8-minute drive) and Bendemeer Primary and Secondary school (a 10-minute drive).
Toa Payoh MRT is the nearest station serving the neighbourhood, which is pretty far away – it will take you 20-minutes by bus to get there.
However, many buses will take you right into the heart of Orchard and Raffles Place within half an hour to forty-five minutes.
It’s not exactly central, so be prepared to spend a good chunk of time commuting if you don’t own a car and rely on public transport. However, if you drive, Orchard Road is just a 12-minute drive away.
Verdict: Will Balestier fall under the PLH mode?
Considering the location and amenities around the marked site and the distance to the city centre, we don’t think the Balestier site will be under the PLH model.
You can, however, expect to face fierce competition – two previous BTO launched in 2019 were massively oversubscribed, with an 8.3 subscription rate for the February 2019 project and a whopping 10.3 subscription rate for the May 2019 project.
Balestier HDB resale flats
The other school campuses to be cleared are the former Mei Chin Secondary and Primary schools at 1 and 3 Mei Chin Road in Queenstown.
Zoned for residential use, the plot spans approximately 35,000 sqm (376,736 sqft).
Queenstown, the first satellite town to be built in Singapore, lies on the fringe of the city centre.
Prime areas such as Bukit Timah, Tanglin and the Downtown Core are all within a 15-minute drive, making the precinct especially attractive.
It’s also a quick 7-minute drive to the popular dining and nightlife enclave of Holland Village.
The current average price psf of Queenstown HDB resale flats is S$697, which is a 25.08% increase since 2011. This is 2.73% higher than the 22.35% increase over the same period across all HDB towns.
If you can’t wait for the Mei Chin site to be ready, the next BTO exercise with units in Queenstown is coming up next month in May, with 860 units within walking distance to Buona Vista MRT.
It’s not under the PLH model, so keep an eye out for this project if you’re looking to snag a central-ish flat with high potential future gains.
What’s near the Queenstown site?
As expected for a mature estate, many amenities are near the new BTO site.
Food and retail
Mei Ling Market & Food Centre lie a 6-minute walk away. It serves up local hawker fare on the second level, while the wet market on the first floor provides residents with fresh produce daily.
Anchorpoint and Alexandra Central Mall are just a short 10-minute walk away, should you require stocking up on your amenities or filling your belly at the many restaurants in the malls.
And, of course, who can resist popping by IKEA and spending hours looking at random home decor items after chowing down on some meatballs and chicken wings.
Alternatively, The Star Vista Mall beside Buona Vista MRT is a 9-minute drive or 14-minute bus ride away, where you can find a wide range of food options and a Cold Storage on the basement level.
The Alexandra Queensway Park Connector will be right outside the new residential site, connecting to the Alexandra Canal Linear Park via an 11-minute walk.
Alternatively, Hort Park is just an 11-minute bus ride away. The park is right in the middle of Kent Ridge Park and the Southern Ridges, so you’ll never run out of green spaces for your daily exercise.
Primary schools within a 1 to 2 km radius are New Town and Queenstown Primary school, while Blangah Rise, Fairfield Methodist and Gan Eng Seng Primary school lie slightly outside that radius.
There’s a lack of preschools in the area. The nearest kindergarten is Milagros de Montessori school at Block 21 Queen’s Close (a 3-min walk), and PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Buona Vista is a 10-minute bus ride away.
Queenstown MRT station is highly accessible, being a 10-minute walk away. Many buses will take you to Orchard Road and Raffles Place in half an hour, which is pretty convenient.
Verdict: Will Queenstown fall under the PLH mode?
After looking at the location and amenities around the Mei Chin site and the distance to the city centre, the jury’s still out on whether this BTO project will be marked for PLH. If the “prime location” continues to be redefined, given Singapore’s ever-evolving landscape, Queenstown might be considered, given its high resale prices.
It will undoubtedly be a popular project due to the many amenities that stem from the district being a mature estate and the fact that it’ll be the third BTO project in the area.
Launched in 2021, the 4-room units at Queen’s Arc had a 7.7 subscription rate, with 4,099 applicants vying for just 534 flats.
There will also likely be no 5-room flats available, so those who need more living space would fare better at looking at the resale market instead.
Queenstown HDB resale flats
Are you eyeing either of the Balestier/Queenstown BTO sites? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook post.
If you found this article helpful, check out How to increase your HDB BTO ballot chances and Are BTO prices are getting more expensive? (2021 update).
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