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Singapore’s first concept plan is completed 1971

Singapore’s first concept plan was formulated in 1971 to guide the physical development of Singapore and ensure the optimal use of limited land resources to meet the residential, economic and recreational needs of a population that was projected to reach 4 million by 1992. The concept plan provided a framework for infrastructure development in Singapore and its far-reaching impact can be seen in much of Singapore’s physical landscape today. These include the location of the international airport at Changi, the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system and the island’s extensive network of expressways.[1]

By the 1960s, the Master Plan of 1958 was deemed outdated and inadequate to address the rapid population, economic and political changes that were taking place in Singapore.  A comprehensive land use and transport plan was needed to outline strategic directions for Singapore’s urban growth and industrialisation.[2] In 1967, the State and City Planning Department, aided by consultants from the United Nations Development Programme, embarked on a project to develop a new land use plan.[3] The four-year  “Urban Development and Renewal Project” cost between S$15 and S$17 million, of which S$5 million was contributed by the United Nations (UN). The team spent considerable effort and time to conduct extensive land, building, population and transport surveys that provided the data on which the concept plan was based.[4]

In March 1970,  the “Ring Plan” concept, which was first proposed by UN experts – Charles Abrams, Susumu Kobe and Otto Koenigsberger in 1963 – was endorsed by  the UN Consultative Review Panel.[5] The concept envisioned a circle of high-density development around the three sides of the central water catchment area, as well as a southern development belt that spanned from Jurong to Changi. The principal areas of activities were linked by a network of expressways, along with a mass rapid transit system to serve the central business district. Jurong was reserved for industrial use and a recommendation to relocate the airport from Paya Lebar to Changi was made. There were also provisions in the plan for the future growth of new industrial areas in Sembawang and Seletar.[6]

A draft of the concept plan was formally presented to the United Nations and the Singapore government in April 1971.

1. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2014). Concept Plan 1971. Retrieved June 5, 2014, from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: http://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/concept-plan.aspx?p1=View-Concept-Plan&p2=Concept-Plan1971; Campbell, W. (1970, March 23). New impetus as ring plan gets go-ahead. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. The Straits Times, 23 Mar 1970, p. 8.
3. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1968, May 6). Memorandum presented to parliament as an addendum to the address by the president: Ministry of National Development. (Vol. 27, col. 26.). Retrieved June 5, 2014, from Parliament of Singapore website: http://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/report.jsp?currentPubID=00069181-ZZ
4. Major survey of land and buildings. (1967, August 18). The Straits Times, p. 8; ‘Unique nation state’ plan. (1967, September 20). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Wardlaw, H. (2013). Interview: Mr Henry Wardlaw, Project Director UNDP “Urban Development and Renewal Project” (1967–1971). Retrieved June 5, 2014, from Centre for Liveable Cities website: http://www.clc.gov.sg/documents/books/CLC_interview_with_Mr_Henry_Wardlaw.pdf
5. Abrams, C., Kobe, S., & Koenigsberger, O. (1963). Growth and urban renewal in Singapore (pp. 63–84). Retrieved August 1, 2014, from MIT Students’ Portal website: http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena/course/11/11.337/www/MIT_Workshop_Material/MIT_Workshop_Material/readings/abrams%20kobe%20koenigsberger_singapore_1963.pdf; The Straits Times, 23 Mar 1970, p. 8.
6. The Straits Times, 23 Mar 1970, p. 8; Campbell, B. (1970, April 8). What the Ring Concept Plan looks like. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Report looks at Singapore in 20 years. (1971, April 24). The Straits Times, p. 19; Rewarding city and the Master Plan. (1971, April 30). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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