In a joint statement on 6 January by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing and Development Board (HDB), the two government agencies said that they will ensure that a proposed temple at Fernvale Link in Sengkang will “integrate well with the surrounding developments, the same way other existing places of worship have been integrated in many residential estates”.
This statement comes after an outcry by residents over plans for a columbarium at an upcoming Chinese temple at a plot of land surrounded by two Build-to-Order projects and an executive condominium development.
Many of the Fernvale Lea’s future and current residents were alarmed to know from news that their estate or soon-to-be-completed homes are to be situated next to a Chinese temple, which would house a columbarium within its premises.
In a joint statement, URA and HDB said the land had been zoned as a “place of worship” in URA’s Master Plan since 2003. The agencies said that Eternal Pure Land, a private limited company which won the tender for the site, has affirmed to HDB its commitment to run a Chinese temple to serve the community.
The private company must also adhere strictly to guidelines which apply to sites set aside for places of worship. The agencies also reiterated URA’s guidelines that only 20 per cent of the total gross floor area for places of worship can be set aside for columbarium use. It must also be inside the main building and away from public view. This policy has been in place since 1999, they said.
URA and HDB said “most places of worship have some columbarium facilities and they are found islandwide”. It cited examples such as Fo Guang Shan Chinese Temple along Punggol Walk, Seu Teck Sean Tong Temple at Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, and the Church of the St. Mary of the Angels at Bukit Batok East Avenue 6.
“URA works closely with HDB and other agencies to ensure that towns are planned comprehensively to be self-sufficient, with a wide range of facilities and amenities to serve the needs of residents. Places of worship can be successfully integrated into the design of residential estates to serve the needs of our people,” HDB and URA stated.
Over 400 residents attended the dialogue session called by Dr Lam Pin in, MP of Seng Kang West SMC after concerns from the residents came up to him about the planned Chinese temple and columbarium at Fernvale Link. The dialogue session also had representatives of the Life Corporation Pte Ltd, parent company of Eternal Pure Land, URA and HDB.
Residents expressed dissappointment and their sense of helplessness as the Seng Kang West MP did not answer most of their questions and had told them to accept this as a fact and move on.