SINGAPORE (Sept 10): The government is carefully studying the feasibility of allowing private developers to play a role in the redevelopment of old flats in the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Monday.

However, Wong said the redevelopment must be carried out in such a way that “preserves the character of our HDB towns, and supports HDB’s mission to provide affordable and quality homes for Singaporeans”.

In response to a question from Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan, Wong said the government has already injected some private development in the redevelopment process for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) and so “will not rule (private developers) out".

VERS was announced at last month's National Day Rally by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and will take place when HDB flats reach about 70 years of age.

See: PM Lee unveils healthcare and housing plans to curb cost of living pressures

See: Singapore renews commitment to ensuring HDB dwellers see their flat as an asset

Four MPs filed four questions on VERS while supplementary questions were also raised by others. These included selection guidelines for VERS, the percentage of votes needed to qualify for VERS, and how much advance notice the HDB would give residents if their precincts were selected for VERS.

Wong said the government needed more time to work out the details, including the extent of coverage of VERS and how compensation will be computed, although he did not say when these details would be released.

See: Have developers, investors grasped the new emphasis on home affordability, HDB revival?

However, Wong added that the SERS programme would not be held back or delayed due to the introduction of VERS.

“We have already selected many of the sites with high development potential,” he said. “I think there are a few more sites, and we will continue to implement SERS in the coming years.”