SINGAPORE, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Singapore plans to increase its land area by more than 7 percent to 766 square kilometers by 2030, the government said on Thursday.
The total land area of the island city state currently stands at 714 square kilometers.
The increase will be part of a bid to accommodate a larger population, which the government has projected to grow to between 6.5 million and 6.9 million by 2030, a target that has taken many of the local residents by surprise over the past two days.
Addressing the concerns of local residents, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said he is aware that some of the local residents think that "the planners must be mad!"
"I think that's a legitimate reaction and of course they ask good questions -- which is, how can you be sure, more population, but quality of life will remain the same but in fact even better?"
"Actually the answer is yes, it's possible -- you can have a larger population and yet have a better quality of life, but conditions must be right," he said, adding the answers are good long-term planning and building ahead of demand in terms of the infrastructure.
About 60 percent of the land will be set aside for housing, industry and community facilities, up from the current 52 percent. A large part of the additional land will come from reclamation and freeing up reserve land.
The government said on Tuesday it will be building 700,000 new housing units and double the size of its rail network by 2030.
Some of the golf courses and military training grounds will make way for redevelopment.
Most of the reclamation will be done at Tekong, an offshore island located on the north eastern part of Singapore, and Tuas in the south western part of the island.
Beyond 2030, potential reclamation areas include Marina East, Changi East and Pasir Ris. These are also marked as reserve sites that can support future needs such as housing and industries.
Policy makers are painting the picture of what is described as "highly liveable, high density towns," local broadcaster Channel NewsAsia said.
New towns will be built with a full range of amenities from childcare centers, hospitals and recreational nodes.
By 2030, at least 85 percent of Singaporeans will live within ten or 15 minutes walk to a park.
"So the key is planning and infrastructure and with time, we can achieve both, so please don't worry," Khaw said.