[HDB clarified on Tuesday that residents who prefer to apply elsewhere can do so. They are guaranteed a flat in Kallang should they be unsuccessful, until Dec 31 next year. ]

<source: The Straits Times – Nov 30, 2011 By Jessica Cheam (Housing Correspondent)>

Rochor Centre residents can apply for flats in all of the Housing Board’s new launches until the end of next year.If they are not successful, they will still be guaranteed a replacement unit at a new project in Kallang.

The HDB clarified this on Tuesday in response to queries from The Straits Times, adding that valuers from GSK Global have been appointed to ensure residents – who have to move house to make way for an expressway – get fair compensation.

Earlier this month, the Government announced details of the southern stretch of the North-South Expressway, scheduled to be completed in 2020.

Acquisition of the 34-year-old Rochor Centre for construction works will affect 567 HDB flats in four blocks as well as 187 shops and eating houses.

As part of an acquisition package, residents are assured of a new flat near Kallang MRT station, due to be completed by 2016, on top of additional discounts for eligible households.

Some residents have, however, said that the Kallang flats are not an equivalent substitute for their centrally located units. One Forum letter writer, Ms Lim Xin Hui, 23, said residents are not pleased that Kallang is near the red-light district of Geylang.

‘If the residents are going to lose a place they have called home for decades, is it not only appropriate for HDB to, at the very least, offer them more BTO options, rather than restrict them to a take-it-or-leave-it offer?’ she wrote, referring to build-to-order projects.

HDB clarified on Tuesday that residents who prefer to apply elsewhere can do so. They are guaranteed a flat in Kallang should they be unsuccessful, until Dec 31 next year.

It added that compensation will be based on market valuations as of when the acquisition was announced – Nov 15. HDB also said that valuers from GSK Global will consider the past resale transactions as well as flat type, orientation, storey height and extent of renovation. The compensation figures – from $423,400 to $645,000 for three- and four-room units – are only estimates, it said.

Some residents have told The Straits Times that the compensation does not take into account the expected increase in the value of the Rochor flats when the Bugis MRT interchange opens.

‘Residents also have to tolerate construction noise for the next few years and suffer the inconvenience of having to move,’ said Ms Amy Kong, 34, a human resource executive.

She lives with her retired parents in a three-room flat bought for $265,000 in 2007. ‘My parents had intended to retire here due to its proximity to the city centre and its amenities. How do you measure such accessibility?’ she said.

Moulmein-Kallang GRC MP Denise Phua – the area’s MP – had also weighed in recently, saying she would try to seek higher compensation for those affected.

Responding to residents’ feedback that the Rochor flats could have a higher value in five years’ time, the HDB said this ‘assumes that the economy and property market continue to appreciate’. It pointed out that as market compensation and subsidised selling prices of the new Kallang flats are frozen, ‘this insulates the flat owners at Rochor Centre against market fluctuations in receiving the compensation and in paying for the new flat’.

‘Furthermore, in five years’ time, the Rochor flats will also be close to 40 years old. Hence, taking a longer-term view, the new flats at Kallang which have a fresh 99-year lease may have the greater potential to appreciate more in value,’ it said.

The HDB will inform flat owners of the compensation they will get in the third quarter of next year. Those who dispute the value can appeal to the Appeals Board (Land Acquisition).


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