URA Master Plan for property buyers: How to read and understand it

Updated: 11 min read

The first thing savvy property buyers do when researching to buy a unit, house or project they’re interested in is to check the URA Master Plan.

What is the URA Master Plan?

Created by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Master Plan is the “statutory land use plan which guides Singapore’s development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years”.

It’s based on the broader Long-Term Plan (formerly known as Concept Plans), containing more details about existing and potential land use. The plan is reviewed every five years, with the latest version being the URA Master Plan 2019.

Why Does the URA Master Plan Exist?

Short of looking into an actual crystal ball, knowing how to read the URA Master Plan can help you locate the ideal home — be it for own stay or for capital appreciation/investment.

This is because all land in Singapore is zoned under specific categories (e.g. residential, commercial, transportation, etc.), so you can see what future developments are in the works before committing to a property decision.

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You can view the URA Master Plan map on URA SPACE, a portal where you can find various types of maps, including those that detail planning decisions and government land sales sites.

URA space
Source: URA

Trouble is, reading the colour-coded plan can be daunting for first-timers.

How to Read the URA Master Plan?

This guide helps you easily understand the Master Plan by zooming in on what you need to look out for.

What is the Legend?

The first thing most users of the Master Plan encounter will be the colour-coded Legend, which tells you the designated use of each site. This can be found when you click on ‘Find Master Plan Zoning’ on the first page.

Source: URA

After clicking on it, this is what you’ll see:

URA legend
Source: URA

The main colours to note are:

Beige and light-blue blocks. These denote residential areas, which includes both private properties as well as HDB estates. A plot that’s colour-coded in beige means that it’s only for residential use. In contrast, a plot that’s in blue can be used for both commercial and residential.


Off-white blocks with an ‘E’. If you’re a parent (or have plans to have children), keep an eye out for properties near the school blocks. Smaller sites tend to be allocated to primary schools.


Light-blue and dark-blue blocks. Living within close proximity of malls ranks high on the property hunting checklist as it offers a ton of convenience when buying daily groceries and amenities.


Green blocks. Those who want to live near green spaces can easily see where (and how expansive) they are by looking at green blocks.


White blocks with lines. Properties located near to MRT or LRT lines tend to be of higher value compared to those further away.

Sports and Recreation (light green): Stadiums are great to have nearby if you foresee yourself using them, but they might also result in noise and light pollution if your unit is right next to the facility.

Utility (grey with a “U”): These substations, transmitting/ receiver stations and water pump stations might be unsightly to some.

Health and Medical Care (red with an “H”): Smaller sites can mean a senior care home. Bigger sites tend to be hospitals or polyclinics.

Reserve Site (yellow): These are wildcards as their uses have not been determined yet.

Special Use (army green): These can be military camp, airbases, etc.

What is Plot ratio?

Defined as the permissible development intensity of a specified land parcel, the plot ratio determines the maximum gross floor area (GFA) of any development on that land parcel. This is the formula to calculate the maximum GFA from plot ratio:

GFA in square feet = Plot ratio x Site area in square feet

To check the plot ratio of a specific development or land parcel, simply search for the development/ area name in the URA Master Plan, and look at the number assigned on the development/ land parcel.

(Land parcels in more undeveloped or yet-to-be-developed areas do not have assigned plot ratios.)

As a rule of thumb, if two developments have roughly the same land area but vastly different plot ratios, this means that one will be a lot denser or taller than the other.

For example, The Pinnacle@Duxton has a land plot ratio of 8.4, whereas the neighbouring Tanjong Pagar Plaza has a plot ratio of only 3.5 (see screenshot below).

Sure enough, The Pinnacle@Duxton appears to be a far denser development than Tanjong Pagar Plaza.

Here are the stats for both developments for a closer comparison:

  The Pinnacle @ Duxton Tanjong Pagar Plaza
Plot ratio 8.4 3.5
Site area 25,172.1 sqm (270,950 sqft) 28,700 sqm (308,924 sqft)
Maximum GFA 8.4 x 270,950 sqft = 2,275,980 sqft 3.5 x 308,924 sqft = 1,081,234 sqft
Highest storey 50 24
Total residential units 1,848 1,022
Residential site on the URA Master Plan
The Pinnacle@Duxton (in beige) has a higher plot ratio than Tanjong Pagar Plaza (in light blue). Source: URA

Here’s a general guide on the maximum number of storeys allowed based on the plot ratio:

GPR Max number of storeys for residential
1.4 5
1.6 12
2.1 24
2.8 36
More than 2.8 More than 36

What Plot Ratio Means to the Prospective Property Buyer

If you’re looking to buy a unit that’s facing an empty plot of land, you can avoid the unpleasant surprise of your unblocked view being obscured by a taller development in a few year’s time by looking at the plot ratio assigned to it.

Take note that, in many areas, additional building height controls may limit the maximum storeys of buildings. For example, HDB blocks in Kaki Bukit were previously limited to 15 storeys because of the nearby Paya Lebar Airbase. However, as the airbase will be moving out and the site gets redeveloped, height restrictions here will be lifted as well.

Other notable sites on the URA Master Plan

1. White sites

White sites are areas intended to be used as a combination of commercial, hotel, residential, sports and recreational spaces. Bidding developers for white sites need to submit detailed proposals to URA, who then decides on the winning bid based on how the proposed development fits into and benefits the area.

So, white sites tend to be or become integrated or mixed-use developments of higher value. If you’re hoping that your property will increase in value as time goes by, having a white site in the vicinity definitely works out in your favour.

White site in URA Master Plan
A white site on the URA Master Plan. Source: URA

An example of a white site, as you can see above, is Cross Street Exchange (formerly China Square Central) at South Bridge Road and Cross Street.

White sites are more predominantly found in the Core Central Region (CCR), and they’re harder to come across in the Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR).

2. Civic & Community Institution

These are pretty straightforward. Colour-coded in red, they are areas intended to be used as civic or community facilities. If you’re lucky, you might get a library, community centre or childcare centre.

But these might also be reformative centres, halfway houses and rehabilitation centres such as Singapore Girls’ Home. Police stations, fire stations and funeral parlours are also classified under Civic & Community Institutions.

Because of the uncertainty that surrounds an undeveloped site that’s zoned as a Civic & Community Institution, property buyers tend not to favour projects that are next to the site, or stacks directly facing it.

3. Place of Worship

They’re marked in the same red colour as Civic & Community Institution sites on the URA Master Plan but with an additional letter “W”.

Source: URA

Place of Worship sites are your churches, mosques, and temples.

With these sites, URA states that “Praying area shall be the predominant use and shall be at least 50% of the total floor area of the development”. This means that 50% of the grounds can be allocated to other purposes.

If you recall, there was an incident back in 2015 when it was announced that there would be a columbarium built next to a Sengkang HDB Build-to-Order (BTO) housing project.

The columbarium would be “integrated with a Chinese temple”, so technically speaking, the site qualifies as a Place of Worship. Needless to say, residents were not happy.

Columbarium or not, places of worship are often associated with noise and smoke pollution, as well as traffic congestion during days of worship and festivals. So you might want to look at the URA Master Plan map and see if there are any of these sites nearby before buying a house.

4. Business 1 vs Business 2

Both Business 1 and 2 sites are areas intended to be used for clean industry, light industry, public utilities and telecommunication uses, and other public installations.

Business 1 sites (in purple) cater to companies which do not have nuisance buffers of more than 50m imposed upon them (eg. computer software development, printing and publishing, etc).

On the other hand, Business 2 sites (in magenta) can be used for warehouses or special industries such as the manufacture of industrial machinery, shipbuilding, and repairing in selected areas, subject to evaluation by the authority.

This land parcel at Tai Seng Industrial Estate, for example, is zoned as Business 2.

Business 2 site on URA Master Plan
Tai Seng Industrial Estate is marked “Business 2”. Source: URA

And this land parcel, also at Tai Seng, is zoned as Business 1.

Business 1 on URA Master Plan
Business 1 sites at Tai Seng. Source: URA

As a general rule of thumb, most folks would prefer to have Business 1 sites rather than Business 2 sites near their property.

5. Business Park

Business Parks are zones where multiple office buildings are built in a cluster, away from the Core Central Business District.

Business Park site on URA Master Plan
Source: URA

Other than Changi Business Park (shown above), there’s also International Business Park in the Jurong Lake District, Cleantech Park in Jurong West, Science Park in Kent Ridge and one-north.

Also, don’t forget about the upcoming Business Park that the government plans to build in Punggol. The Punggol Digital District will focus on technological sectors of business and create an estimated 28,000 jobs.

Buyers are hoping the new business hub will drive demand for property rental and boost property value in the vicinity.


The URA Master Plan is an essential tool for property buyers in Singapore, providing valuable insights into the future development of the city-state. By understanding how to read and interpret the plan, buyers can make informed decisions and find their ideal home or investment property.

The Master Plan, updated every five years, offers a colour-coded Legend that designates specific land uses, such as residential, commercial, transportation, and more. By examining the Legend, buyers can identify areas suitable for their needs, whether it’s proximity to schools, malls, green spaces, transportation, or other amenities. The plan also includes information on plot ratios, which determine the maximum gross floor area of a development, allowing buyers to assess the density and height of neighbouring properties. Notable sites on the Master Plan include white sites, which tend to become integrated or mixed-use developments of higher value, and civic and community institutions, which can include facilities like libraries, community centres, or reformative centres.

Additionally, buyers can identify places of worship, business sites (Business 1 and Business 2), and business parks, such as the upcoming Punggol Digital District. By leveraging the insights provided by the URA Master Plan, property buyers can make strategic decisions that align with their goals and maximise their investment potential.

Planning to sell your house soon? Let us help you get a good price by connecting you with a premier property agent.

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Rejuvenating the Core Central Region: URA’s Master Plans for Orchard and Novena and Up-and-coming estates in Singapore for future property investments.

Frequently asked questions

What is the URA Master Plan?

Created by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Master Plan is the “statutory land use plan which guides Singapore’s development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years”.

What are White Sites in the URA Master Plan?

White sites are areas intended to be used as a combination of commercial, hotel, residential, sports and recreational spaces.

How do you calculate the Gross Floor Area (GFA) of a development on a land parcel?

Defined as the permissible development intensity of a specified land parcel, the plot ratio determines the maximum gross floor area (GFA) of any development on that land parcel.
This is the formula to calculate the maximum GFA from plot ratio:
GFA in square feet = Plot ratio x Site area in square feet

When will the next version of the URA Master Plan be out?

The Master Plan is reviewed every five years, so the next one will probably be available in 2024.

Looking to sell your property?

Whether your HDB apartment is reaching the end of its Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) or your condo has crossed its Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) window, it is always good to know how much you can potentially gain if you were to list and sell your property. Not only that, you’ll also need to know whether your gains would allow you to right-size to the dream home in the neighbourhood you and your family have been eyeing.

One easy way is to send us a request for a credible and trusted property consultant to reach out to you.

Alternatively, you can jump onto 99.co’s Property Value Tool to get an estimate for free.

If you’re looking for your dream home, be it as a first-time or seasoned homebuyer or seller – say, to upgrade or right-size – you will find it on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co.

Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

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Reader Interactions


    • Wonderful post Roger. It is amazing how many moments I see this type of stuff from clients.

    • Elizabeth Chee

      your article URA Master Plan for Property Buyers: how to understand it has been helpful but i have a question. How is the highest storey determined in a development? take the case of the Pinnacle and Tanjong Pagar Plaza. Appreciate your response

    • Thanks for the information 🙂

    • John Ong

      What does special use under dark green meant in the master plan legend

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