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News Release
Industrial carparks used as offices

Source: Straits Times

13 March 2013

 

Industrial carparks being used as offices

But URA says such conversions not allowed on industrial premises

By Melissa Tan

Cubicles have squeezed out cars in some industrial buildings as tenants try to maximise the use of their space amid rising business costs.

A check by The Straits Times of a few strata industrial projects found that some tenants had converted the private parking spaces in their units into glass-fronted offices.

Industrial strata units typically have two private carpark spaces included in each unit. They are behind metal roller shutters at the unit's entrance.

The conversion of these private parking spaces into offices could be a violation of usage guidelines laid down by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

"Conversion of these (carpark) lots to independent offices is not allowed as industrial premises are intended to serve industrial activities," the URA told The Straits Times last week.

A sales manager at one unit where private carpark space had been turned into an office told The Straits Times the conversion was done by the landlord.

He declined to be named or specify the landlord, but said the conversion was done before his company took the lease in 2010.

He added that besides the glass-fronted office, the firm has a larger sales office which includes technical staff and occupies the rest of the unit.

The developer of the building this unit was in, Midview Realty, declined to comment.

Some tenants may be tempted to convert industrial space to office usage because industrial space is much cheaper.

Industrial rents are typically $1.50-$2 per sq ft (psf) per month, though newer developments in areas like Bukit Merah can command up to $3.50 psf per month, said PropNex head of business space Roy Chong.

In contrast, suburban office rents are $5-$7 psf per month.

Mr Chong said the presence of private carpark spaces was "insignificant" in determining the rent of a strata industrial unit.

SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said industrial tenants "may feel entitled" to convert private parking spaces since they paid for the space, but have to check with regulators on whether the conversion is allowed.

He noted that such conversions were more prevalent at older developments.

In newer industrial buildings, developers tend to offer common parking space, instead of building private parking spaces located within the strata units Mr Mak said.

Tenants have also used the private parking spaces for storage.

Using such space for storage or industrial production is allowed under certain conditions, the URA said. The individual unit's tenant or owner has to submit a formal application to URA for such a conversion. This application can also be made by the building's management corporation.

 

"We have given approval for such conversion in a number of industrial buildings but we are not able to share the list for confidentiality reasons," the URA said.

 
Bike owner takes condo to court over parking row

Source: Straits Times 04 Sept 2013

 

Rather than cruising the streets of Singapore, Mr William Ashlock's 1800cc Harley-Davidson has spent the last three months left locked in a wheel clamp at his condo.

The management council of the Metropolitan Condominium took action after he parked that and another large bike in spots meant for cars.

Mr Ashlock claims the bike parking spaces provided are too narrow, as is a gap between a car space and a pillar that is used to access them. He said he was afraid of damaging his bike and other cars if he parked there.

Now the 58-year-old has put his foot down - and taken the matter to court.

He is seeking a court order to get the council to re-mark or relocate its spaces for motorcycles and ensure safe access to them.

The financial services executive discovered that his Harley and BMW K1330GT bikes had been clamped on June 5. He paid a $341 release fee for the BMW but the Harley is still locked up.

Since June, he claims, talks between himself and the management council have been deadlocked and he has turned to the courts in a bid to find the council's actions unjust, as well as to seek a refund plus damages.

In a case partly heard before District Judge Ow Yong Tuck Leong on Monday, the council is contesting his claims. It countered that it was adhering to by-laws passed at a general meeting last year.

Council chairman Chan Yeok Pheng said such rules are governed by the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, which obliges the council to control and manage common property - such as the carpark spaces - for the benefit of all residents.

At issue in the case is whether the council's action is reasonable and whether the allotted motorcycle spots allow safe access.

The council argued it had first put Mr Ashlock on notice of his breach in November 2011.

Various warning letters and notices followed.

The wheel clamp action was undertaken in accordance with by-laws after he persisted in parking in the car spaces, it said.

Mr Ashlock is arguing that his bikes are up to 75 per cent bigger than usual motorcycles. He claims his 1300cc BMW measures about 95cm by 255cm while the motorcycle parking space at the Alexandra View condo is 70cm by 220cm.

He is also arguing that the motorbike parking spots are only accessible through a narrow route flanked by a supporting pillar and car spot - making it difficult to steer his pride and joy in and out.

A blind spot, he adds, makes it difficult for the exiting motorcyclist to see vehicles or pedestrians around the corner.

Indian-born Mr Ashlock, who has lived in Singapore, the US and Britain, says these issues forced him into using the car parking spaces. He argues that 80 per cent of those in the second level basement are empty most of the time.

However the council denied that photographs shown in evidence proved that large motorcycles would have difficulty in accessing the spaces.

It added that riders had a duty to check to avoid dangers posed by the blind spots before turning the corner. The hearing will continue on a day to be fixed.

 
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