Wed. Sep 20th, 2023
    Lower Land Prices for Churches as Government Revises Framework for Places of Worship

    The Singaporean Government has implemented changes to the pricing and allocation of land for places of worship, allowing churches to lease land at lower prices. Previously, land was allocated to the highest bidder through competitive price tenders. Under the new framework, which will take effect in the third quarter of 2023, land for places of worship will be allocated through a ballot, at a fixed price determined by the Chief Valuer based on market value.

    This revision aims to address concerns raised by religious organizations about the rising prices of land for places of worship. In addition to lowering the price of land, the new framework also provides churches looking to renew their leases the opportunity to benefit from the fixed-price structure. Previously, lease renewal premiums were influenced by recent bids.

    The implementation of a ballot system removes the need for religious organizations to outbid each other, ensuring that even those with fewer resources have increased access to land. Churches interested in acquiring a new site can view the list of available sites on the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) website, with the land premium disclosed upfront. Guidelines on how to apply will be provided upon release.

    To participate in the ballot, applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria, including being a registered religious organization, organizing activities benefiting the wider community, demonstrating a need for a new site, and having sufficient local funding sources. Each eligible applicant will have one ballot chance by default, with additional chances granted for unsuccessful attempts at acquiring land in the past five years, up to a maximum of four chances.

    The balloting process will determine the successful religious organization, and the offer will remain valid for three months. The winning organization must accept the offer and pay 25% of the land premium within 28 days, followed by the remaining 75% within 90 days. To ensure fairness, religious organizations that have already obtained a new site within the past five years or renewed their lease, tenancy agreement, or temporary occupation license within the past two years will not be eligible to participate in the ballot.

    Churches on short-term tenancy or with leases expiring by 2025 will receive invitations from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to apply for lease renewal. Upon application, SLA will issue a lease renewal offer with the land premium within 20 weeks. The offer will be valid for six weeks, and churches must accept and pay the full land premium within that timeframe.

    Overall, the revised framework aims to provide religious organizations with greater assurance, allowing them to focus on their primary mission of serving the community and promoting religion.

    – Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)
    – Singapore Land Authority (SLA)