Public opinion favours vertical housing
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
MEMBERS of the public generally agree with the government’s decision to provide vertical housing under the National Housing Scheme, considering land constraints on development.
The government in 2010 announced that only five per cent of the country’s land area was left available for development therefore the decision to go upwards was agreed upon.
However, the decision brought up more concerns, mainly those pertaining to quality, security and living space.
Vertical housing was first raised at the seventh Legislative Council (LegCo) session in 2011.
The government initially raised the idea of developing vertical housing to accommodate the long list of National Housing Scheme applicants in 2010,
That year, a survey on vertical housing found that 95 per cent of respondents agreed with the idea of vertical housing equipped with facilities.
In 2012, it was reported that the waiting list for the government’s housing scheme was estimated at more than 30,000 applications.
The Ministry of Development and Dara Construction Sdn Bhd signed a contract in 2014 for the construction of Brunei’s first high-rise apartments located in Lambak Kanan – worth $55 million – to accommodate national housing applicants.
The project, which is ongoing, is expected to see 300 units housed in ten six-storey buildings that can accommodate approximately 1,800 citizens.
Previous reports said that each unit has an area of 170 square metres, comprising four bedrooms, three bathrooms, one living room, one dining room and one kitchen.
A multi-storey car park, sporting and recreational facilities will be part of the facilities offered to residents.
It was reported in February that construction of Brunei’s first high-rise apartments had been delayed by a year, due to several challenges related to the design phase.
Dara Construction Sdn Bhd Project Manager Nadesan Premakanthan said that construction of the apartments has so far achieved 45 per cent completion, and that the apartments will now be expected to be completed in March or April 2017.
The Brunei Times interviewed a few locals on their thoughts on the matter and most were fairly positive with only minor concerns raised.
Diyana, 28, said she applied for a bungalow or semi-detached house in Brunei-Muara, under the National Housing Scheme.
She said that it would not really be an issue, if she received a high-rise apartment instead, as long as the space was enough for her and her family.
However, Diyana said she was worried about the quality of the building, saying she had heard some people complaining about the quality of the houses they had received.
“There is also the problem of transporting heavy items such as furniture or carrying shopping items, especially if you have to live in floors higher up the building,” she said.
The problem, she added, might be compounded for the elderly and pregnant women, if elevators were not working.
“But, I am probably ready for a high-rise apartment, as long as they can ensure the building is safe to live in and that the building quality is good,” she said.
Nadi, 26, who applied for a high-rise apartment said he would not mind living in a high-rise apartment.
He added that he used to live in such buildings back when he was an overseas student.
“I think it would be fun to have that in Brunei. Having so many people in one building will help create more relationships with other Bruneians, beyond just family.
“Most importantly, it would save land space in Brunei as we are a small country,” he said.
Yet, Nadi raised the need for security at the apartment.
“I think security at the apartments needs to be at least up to par and vigilant, as anything can happen,” he said.
Farhana, 25, said she applied for a bungalow last year, but would not be bothered if she was given an apartment.
“But the number of rooms might worry me when I have a family and children,” she said, adding that the limited space might not allow her to host family events.
In a separate interview, mother-of-four Siti Fatin said she and her husband applied for a house in the Brunei-Muara district in 2014.
The 27-year-old said she hoped to get a house, as it provided more privacy and the option for further development of the home.
“A house would be more satisfying as we could have our own garden, private space, and an area for family gatherings or events,” she said.
While the apartments are still in the building phase, it is clear that housing applicants hope that relevant concerns would be taken into consideration.
Perhaps such concerns should also be addressed during the upcoming 12th LegCo session that is slated to open this week.
The Brunei Times