F&B and Retail Options in Existing Towns

MP Louis Chua

Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis (Sengkang): The rising cost of living and uncertain economic outlook have made Singaporeans more cost conscious about their food options, which makes hawker centres, with their eclectic mix of delicious local food at affordable prices, the preferred places for meals for most. However, given the uneven distribution of hawker centres around Singapore, some Singaporeans are, unfortunately, disadvantaged on this front.  

 Some interesting statistics which I found, based on NEA’s list of hawker centres as at December, there are, currently, 118 hawker centres in Singapore, 27 directly managed by NEA, 80 by Town Councils (TCs), 10 by private operators and one is not in operation. 

 It appears that, on the one hand, Jalan Besar and Tanjong Pagar have a disproportionately higher number of hawker centres per division while, on the other hand, Choa Chu Kang and Sengkang TCs do not have any hawker centres within their boundaries.  

 There is no real justification for some locations having a lot more hawker centres than others. As they are a key feature of Singapore’s unique culture and heritage and are Singaporeans’ preferred daily go-to place for affordable food, they should be built in every town centre. Hawker centres, like HDB shops, not only make heartland living vibrant, they also support small local businesses run by and employing residents living nearby.  

 Hawker centres directly managed by NEA should be central to the planning of new estates and built ahead of demand in new estates. Pioneering hawkers should be charged lower rents prior to demand building up and reassessed based on traffic and tenants’ sales progress. This would be fair to the first few batches of residents and hawkers in new towns. Stall leases should be awarded on the basis of retail diversity and the range of prices, among others.  

 In my HDB (Amendment) Bill speech earlier this year, I called for the Government to not forget neighbourhoods, such as Sengkang, which do not have the benefit of the convenience and rich diversity of having heartland shops in close proximity to our homes. As advised by Senior Minister of State Sim Ann back then, I had since written to HDB on this matter and I look forward to hearing from HDB and working closely with the team on the low retail and food options within the existing precincts of Sengkang. 

Ministry of National Development
2 March 2023


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