Shoe-box apartments serve a purpose as many singles do find them adequate for their housing needs. There is hence a market for such a demand. I have visited some of these buyers and they seem comfortable with their units.
But shoe-box factories? As small as 50-80 sqm (smaller than a typical 7-Eleven shop)? Can a factory truly operate in such a small space?
Last month, ST published an article about some of these shoe-box tenants in industrial parks. Many are legitimate non-industrial tenants, providing relevant supportive services to the genuine industrial tenants for which the industrial park is built. For example, some are staff canteens and in-house clinics serving the factory workers.
However, there are some who appear to be unauthorized non-industrial tenants. They appear to be abusing the lower rentals at industrial land/parks for normal commercial/office activities which should rightly be in commercial land/sites. This is wrong.
URA zones industrial land to support industrial activities. The zoning helps to keep the industrial land cheaper than say commercial/office land, and thereby keeps our industries competitive.
What are legitimate industrial activities? They include manufacturing, warehousing and production. Certain types of e-businesses such as IT infrastructure and software development are also allowed.
Offices and shops are not considered industrial use and are not allowed within industrial developments. However, some non-industrial activities such as child-care centres, staff canteens and showrooms are allowed within industrial developments, provided (a) they support the main industrial activities, and (b) together with lift lobbies and other circulation areas, do not occupy more than 40% of the industrial development.
Bona fide industrial activities will need space. Shoe-box factory units cannot accommodate genuine industrial activities. JTC has estimated that a minimum unit size of 150 sqm is necessary for genuine industrial activities. It has made this clear in its industrial land sale tenders. URA has also used a similar norm when evaluating development proposals in industrial parks.
Meanwhile, developers and property agents are required to make it clear to prospective buyers upfront that industrial units can only be used for industrial activities. They must not mislead buyers into misusing industrial land/parks for non-industrial activities.
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