Island south of Sentosa zoned for housing

Kezia Toh Straits Times 2 Feb 13;

IN MORE than two decades, some residents could call Pulau Seringat - a tiny island south of Sentosa - home.

The island, reported as a potential site for a casino resort six years ago, has been zoned for residential use under the Ministry of National Development's (MND) Land Use Plan announced on Thursday.

The six southern islands - Kusu, St John's, the Sisters' Islands, Kias, Lazarus and Seringat - were reportedly set to be clustered into one of the two casino resorts, which were eventually sited at Marina Bay and Sentosa.

Pulau Seringat bore marks of progress when The Straits Times visited yesterday afternoon, with paved roads, covered shelters and a visitors' centre greeting boats docking at a small jetty.

It is open to the public and the island's crown jewel is a sparkling crescent-shaped beach with clear greenish-blue water.

But some parts are still rustic: beachgoers trek through a sandy dirt path to the beach, and the bulk of the island teems with overgrown greenery.

It was a desolate sight at the visitors' centre, with locked toilets, an empty VIP room, and no staff present.

All that is set to change if bulldozers take to the island, which is linked by a bridge to neighbouring St John's Island.

The islands have gas, water, electricity and telecommunication lines from Sentosa.

Visitors take the ferry, which runs between Marina South Pier, St John's Island and Kusu Island, or charter a private boat to reach the island.

It is a spot popular among swimmers and couples who like the rustic scenery for their wedding pictures, said boat captain Junrey Millan, 33. He runs about four trips daily to the island, and brings in maintenance staff twice a week, so that they can clear litter and trim the grass.

Asked about its plans for the area, the MND said that there were no further development plans for Pulau Seringat at this time, and the southern islands would be retained for recreational uses.

According to property firm SLP International's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak, the island will likely house high-end homes in order to stay exclusive, rather than mass-market public housing, which can lead to problems transporting a large number of residents to and from the mainland every day.

But island living will only take off if transport arrangements are smooth, he said, adding that apart from a marina for residents to dock their private boats, an underwater tunnel linking the island to the mainland could be feasible.

"You cannot have a man driving his Ferrari, parking it at VivoCity, then waiting for a ferry to take him home."

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