TL;DR – If you don’t know what’s all that NRP talk about, we break it down for you.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP). It all started with PAP’s candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election, Mr Murali, saying that plans to build a a multi-generational park and covered linkways in Bukit Batok may not be realised if he weren’t elected. In his exact words:
“This plan that we are presenting is part of the PAP Jurong-Clementi Town Council…If we don’t have the mandate then we don’t have the ability to carry on, because we wouldn’t form the town council. That’s the rules”
In response, Dr Paul Tambyah posted this statement on SDP’s website:
“To say that major improvements will come only if the PAP candidate is elected is unethical and could even be a contravention of the Parliamentary Elections Act (Section 59) which prohibits parties or persons from bringing undue influence on voters.”
But what exactly is this NRP thing that has become such a big topic in this by-election? Let us unscramble and put it into simple terms for you.
What is the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP)?
It is a programme that aims to improve the living environment for residents of HDB estates. Each NRP project spans two our more precincts. A precinct is an area that typically contains between 400 to 600 flats. The NRP started in 2007. The NRP is fully funded by the government. It is implemented by the respective Town Councils.
What sort of improvements can residents expect from NRP?
There are generally two types of improvements. The first type are improvements to individual blocks (also known as block level improvements), while the second type are improvements to the areas around the blocks (also known as precinct-level improvements).
Example of block-level improvements include:
- New letterboxes
- Residents’ corners
- Seating area at void decks
- Lift lobby tiling at first storey
Example of precinct-level improvements include:
- Drop-off porch
- Covered linkways
- Footpath/jogging track
- Fitness corner
- Street soccer pitch
In other words, you have NRP to thank for the covered linkways in your neighbourhood so that you don’t have to walk under the scorching sun these few days.
Why two or more precincts?
Rather than just do a bit here now, then a bit there later, the NRP ensures that the improvements addresses as many of the concerns and needs of residents as possible. The improvements can be better coordinated and integrated across neighbouring precincts.
Who decides on the sort of improvements?
The residents! Residents are actively consulted before proposals of the NRP for the precincts are drawn up. This is done through avenues such as Town Hall meetings, dialogue sessions, surveys, mini-exhibitions and block parties. After initial consultations, the Town Council will draw up some draft proposal and consult residents again. This can go on for several rounds. Each round, the proposals are refined.
That is exactly what the PAP Jurong-Clementi Town Council has been doing for the NRP proposals for Bukit Batok. After the first few rounds of consultations, they came up with a draft proposal. And consulted residents again. Based on feedback, the position of some linkways were changed.
Eventually, the Town Council will only proceed with the NRP if 75% of the residents in the neighbourhood indicate their support for the proposals.
Will the NRP still go ahead if an Opposition Town Council takes over?
WP faced this question when they won Aljunied GRC in GE2011. According to WP MP Mr Pritam Singh, the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council asked HDB:
“… if the NRP project at Eunos Spring (the precinct in question) could go ahead because of a change of Town Councils, and an opposition Town Council at that. The answer was YES. In addition, we were free to determine if we wanted to change the proposal of the previous PAP-run Aljunied Town Council with regard to the NRP upgrading plans – that’s the nature of the NRP and how it works. A Town Council then seeks resident’s feedback and proposes a plan for residents to approve (requires 75% approval).”
So it would seem that NRP projects could still go ahead regardless of which party runs the Town Council in charge of the precincts. In the case of Bukit Batok by-election, if the SDP wins, then they can decide if they want to go ahead with the NRP. Or not.
Meanwhile, we have written in to HDB to confirm that this is indeed the case. We have also written to Mr Pritam Singh to ask him about WP’s experience working with HDB on NRP projects. We will update when we get a response from HDB and Mr Pritam Singh.
There. That’s what you need to know about the NRP.