In the next few years the small city-state of Singapore will close its only racecourse to make room for the construction of new houses. With an area of about 200 thousand square meters and a history spanning more than 180 years, the structure will have to be returned to the government by 2027 due to the great demand for places to live. The decision was communicated by the Ministries of Finance and National Development, who recalled that space in the city is “limited”.
Singapore stands on a series of islands and occupies a total area of about 720 square kilometres, less than half of the metropolitan area of Milan: however, 5.4 million inhabitants live there, with a population density of about 8,000 people per square kilometre. (almost 4 times that of the province of Milan). More than 80 percent of residents live in their own homes thanks to a public housing system that facilitates buying at subsidized prices: however, demand is very high, with the result that house prices have increased in the last three years by about 30 percent.
In a joint statement, the ministries have announced that the site where the racecourse stands will be used mainly to build houses, including housing in social housing. The goal is for the administration’s land use plan to “satisfy current needs and at the same time ensure that there is enough room for future generations.” The administration is also considering using part of the area to develop leisure-related activities.
The Singapore Turf Club was founded as the Singapore Sporting Club in 1842, when the territory was controlled by the United Kingdom. Due to its popularity, the racecourse it operated was moved to ever larger areas, first in western Singapore and then to the northwest, into its current structure, which can seat up to 30,000 spectators. Over the years the racecourse has been frequented by numerous enthusiasts, celebrities and even royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who visited both in 1972 and 2006. However, crowds had long since declined.
Club president Niam Chiang Meng said the organization was saddened by the decision, but was aware of the city’s need for space. The last race at the racecourse will be held on 5 October 2024, on the occasion of the 100th edition of the Grand Singapore Gold Cup. After which, by March 2027, the area will be handed over to the government in order to start construction.
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