The thunder of hooves will go silent at Singapore’s only horse-racing club next year, as the government plans to transform the facility in the northern Kranji area into a master-planned residential community.
The Singapore Turf Club, which manages and operates horse racing in the city-state, will close the facility by March 2027, the Finance Ministry said Monday in a release. STC’s last race, the 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup, is scheduled to take place in October 2024.
With declining spectatorship at the races in land-scarce Singapore, the 120 hectare (296.5 acre) racecourse site will be master-planned to make better use of the expanse. The site will be redeveloped into housing (including public housing), and the government is studying ways to add leisure and recreation elements.
“The land is to be returned to the government in 2027, so that land preparation and redevelopment can commence,” the Finance Ministry said.
180 Years of History
Founded in 1842, STC has operated three horse-racing venues throughout its history, including previous facilities at Farrer Park and Bukit Timah that closed in 1933 and 1999, respectively.
In the lead-up to the closure at Kranji, employees will be offboarded in phases and receive support during the transition with a retrenchment package, personal career guidance, skills-training courses and counselling, STC said Monday in a separate announcement.
“We are saddened by the decision of the government to close the club,” said STC chairman Niam Chiang Meng. “At the same time, we understand the land needs of Singapore, including housing and other potential uses such as leisure and recreation.”
Indranee Rajah, Singapore’s second minister for finance and national development, told reporters that the racetrack’s location right next to Kranji MRT station demands making optimal use of the real estate.
“Over the past few years, we have taken back golf courses, we have taken back other areas,” Rajah said. “Singapore’s getting to the stage where there’s less greenfield for you to build on, you actually have to build brownfield. So there will be a time when you have to take back estates or take back precincts and rebuild.”
Potential for 20,000 Homes
With details vague at this point, the National Development Ministry intends to provide updates on the land use plans for the STC site after assessments and studies have been completed.
Chia Siew Chuin, head of residential research at JLL Singapore, said the STC site could add more than 20,000 homes in the longer term, compared with the nearby Woodlands area that holds 76,691 public and private homes and is projected to have 102,000 housing units in the future.
“Considering the characteristics, transportation/connectivity nodes and development plans of the broader-area north region and subject to studies by the government, other potential uses that may be considered for the STC site could include leisure, recreational, mainstream and alternative sports, supporting retail, food and beverage, and hotel facilities,” Chia told Mingtiandi.
Land is a precious resource in tiny Singapore, where private homes have surpassed Hong Kong’s as the most expensive in Asia Pacific with a median price of $1.20 million per unit, the Urban Land Institute said in a recent report.
In Hong Kong, where ULI estimates that only 4 percent of the territory is available for urban housing use, the challenges in reclaiming recreational land for residential development have come to the fore in the case of the city’s oldest golf course.
The government plans to revise an earlier proposal to build public housing on 9 hectares of the Hong Kong Golf Club’s course, arguing that high-density development is no longer appropriate for the site. The club announced Monday that it was in the running to host an event of the nascent LIV Golf League, after previously warning that the city might lose out on high-profile tournaments if the housing project went ahead, the South China Morning Post reported.