The Ministry of National Development (MND) is reevaluating its approach to classifying public housing as mature or non-mature to reflect modern changes. National Development Minister Desmond Lee stated that the distinction between mature and non-mature estates is becoming less significant as non-mature estates grow older. This announcement was made during a government engagement session as part of the ‘Forward Singapore’ initiative, which encourages citizens to provide input for shaping and improving the nation’s social impact.
The classification of estates as mature or non-mature helps guide applicants in the Built-To-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises, as explained by MND in a written answer to a question from Member of Parliament Daryl David in April 2017. Currently, there are 24 HDB towns and three public housing estates across Singapore, with new BTO launches classified according to mature or non-mature estates.
However, recent non-mature estates have become just as convenient, with equal access to amenities and transportation as older HDB towns. Some of these newer estates have even been developed as smart and sustainable towns, like Punggol and Tengah. For almost six decades, urban planners in Singapore have aimed to provide HDB estates with housing and community facilities like shopping malls, public libraries, food courts, and sports complexes.
Newly created HDB towns and estates, such as Canberra in Sembawang and the upcoming Lentor estate in Ang Mo Kio, feature innovative urban planning that prioritizes placemaking, community building, and sustainability.
Canberra, located in the North region of Singapore, is a prime example of how modern estates challenge the conventional mature and non-mature classification. Developed in the late 2000s to accommodate housing demand in nearby Yishun and Sembawang, Canberra is a subzone under the Sembawang planning area and considered a non-mature estate. The first BTO projects in Canberra were launched in 2013, and the yet-to-be-completed Canberra Vista, a 1,467-unit BTO project, is set to be one of the last public housing projects in the area.
Canberra is a growing neighbourhood anchored by the newly-opened Canberra Plaza, one of HDB’s first New Generation Neighbourhood Centres. This mall serves as a focal point for the community and offers shopping, dining, and enrichment options, as well as public plazas and play areas. Other community facilities, such as the Bukit Canberra indoor sports hall and upcoming hawker centre, will also soon be available.
Canberra offers a range of amenities to its residents, including BTO flats, executive condominiums, and private condominiums, all of which have seen strong sales. Additionally, the neighbourhood has parks, established private landed housing, and the Sembawang Shopping Centre, making it a well-rounded community.