Johor's Forest City could house up to 700,000: Developer

THE master developer for the 1,400ha reclaimed land in Johor near Tuas said that over the next 20 or 30 years, homes may be built that can house as many as 700,000 people.

The homes being built in the Forest City project would add to the nearly 336,000 new residential units that are in the pipeline for the rest of Johor state.

The large number of new homes coming up in Johor has raised concerns in Singapore.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who is a board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, told Parliament on Monday that the nearly 336,000 new private residential units are more than the total number of private homes in Singapore.

He said the figure, derived from official Malaysian statistics, does not include homes being built on the Forest City reclaimed land.

Johor had 719,421 existing homes at the end of last year, according to Malaysia's National Property Information Centre, a unit under its Ministry of Finance.

"There is indeed a real concern about future oversupply in the property market there and hence the potential decline in value of homes," Mr Wong said in reply to an MP's question about Singaporeans buying in southern Johor's Iskandar Malaysia region.

Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin, when asked last week about concerns in Singapore over a property glut in Iskandar, said: "Investments in Johor are not only confined to property."

The reclaimed Forest City project consists of four man-made islands being raised by a company partly owned by the Sultan of Johor.

Forest City will offer wealthy international buyers luxury homes by the Strait of Johor, its developer has said.

The four islands will have a total land area of 1,386ha - about three times the size of Sentosa island. Forest City's master developer is Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV).

Asked via a text message yesterday how many people would live in Forest City, CGPV's executive director, Datuk Md Othman Yusof, replied: "The project duration is between 20 and 30 years. Estimation of population = 700,000."

CGPV is 60 per cent owned by China's Country Garden Holdings, with Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Ismail and an investment arm of the Johor government also holding stakes. Assuming six people live in each housing unit in Forest City, the 700,000 residents would need 116,666 homes.

The first phase is expected to be ready in five years, with these units adding to the incoming supply of nearly 336,000 new homes in Johor over the next few years.

Singapore's latest official figures show it has 327,811 private homes. There are another 83,642 in the pipeline, including executive condominium units.

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