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Placemaking Special: Have You Heard Of The Business Improvement District Programme?

Here is what you need to know about this national place management effort spearheaded by the URA

Editor’s note: Placemaking has become an increasingly common term in the design vernacular. Its relevance has been further heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, where it is regarded as a means to strengthen community bonds. This is part of a series of stories that examines its different facets.

All of us can contribute to placemaking.

From planting a Thai basil sapling in a neighbourhood community garden, to inviting a neighbour to sit and chat in front of your storefront, these grassroots methods of fostering relationships all qualify as place management.

At a national level, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is encouraging this through its Business Improvement District (BID) programme, which was piloted in September 2017 and has since garnered interest from stakeholders in the private sector.

It takes its cue from established BIDs overseas, such as the Times Square Alliance in the US and New West End Company in the UK.

“This is a more formal placemaking approach to further inspire and empower businesses and local communities to take on greater ownership and co-develop solutions tailored for their precincts,” says Chou Mei, URA’s Group Director of Conservation & Urban Design.

Through it, a precinct can enhance its vibrancy and attractiveness through targeted marketing strategies, hospitality and events – in doing so, it could benefit from increased footfall and reduced costs.

It can also complement various services provided by the government, such as improvements in areas of security, transportation and maintenance.

To date, there are five precincts which have formed and are operating as pilot BIDs: Singapore River, Marina Bay, Marina Centre, Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar.

The government provides matching funds for every dollar of membership fee raised.

“This encourages communities to pool resources together to collectively implement initiatives in their precincts,” adds Chou.

“Through planning efforts over the years, many of our towns and neighbourhoods already have a wide range of amenities and facilities located within easy reach.

“The challenge is to continue to build upon this to enable us to do more in our immediate neighbourhoods.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has served to further reinforce the importance of strong social networks to build community resilience.

Be it from ground-up or through the BID, it is heartening to know that placemaking in Singapore has been developing and in doing so, contributing to our overall well-being.

For those interested in working with the community to turn open spaces into gathering places or transform streets into active public spaces, check out the Lively Places Programme. Write to URA at to arrange for a chat to discuss an area of interest. Advice can also be provided or introductions made to the relevant resources or potential partners to kickstart placemaking efforts in a neighbourhood or precinct.

Find out more about what two precincts that are part of the BID programme, Tanjong Pagar and Marina Bay, have been up to recently, by purchasing and downloading a digital copy of Issue 119: March 2021.

Low Shi Ping
URA, Singapore River One, Discover Tanjong Pagar
Top image:
Singapore River Festival 2018, organised by Singapore River One
15 March 2021