Friday, July 10, 2009

Got Lift But No View

Source : The Straits Times, July 11, 2009


HDB expects more complaints as it tackles more complex blocks

FOR some Eunos HDB residents, getting a lift that stops on every floor has been more of a nightmare than a dream come true.

Residents have complained about the loss of privacy and blockage of light from walls built at the additional lift shaft. -- ST PHOTOS: ALBERT SIM

They say that new lift shafts built on the outside of their blocks have robbed their flats of privacy and ventilation and blocked their views, as well as some light.

The external shafts being built under the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) affect 14 out of 116 units in each of three 13- and 17-storey blocks near the Geylang Serai market.

Blocks 411, 415 and 417 at Eunos Road 5 are U-shaped blocks combining two-storey maisonettes with single-storey corner units. This means that not every floor has a common corridor, and that is where the problem arises.

Last month, the small group of residents who have objected to the LUP since plans were first mooted in 2006 went so far as to ask that the lift shafts be torn down - even after the Housing Board had made several modifications to the design to address their complaints.

On Thursday, the HDB cited the Eunos example when it said that more such problems are likely to crop up as the LUP moves to other blocks across the island with unusual designs.

The protruding external lift shafts (above) at Block 411, Eunos Road 5, have resulted in loss of privacy for some residents. -- ST PHOTO: ALBERT SIM

When the programme began in 2001, it said, the blocks involved were mostly slab-sided ones.

Providing lift upgrading was thus a straightforward affair of making existing lifts stop on every floor.

But since 2004, the LUP has been moving to blocks with more complex designs.

These blocks present different challenges the HDB said, but it would work with residents to come up with solutions to problems, and will tweak its designs to address some of their concerns.

At Eunos, for example, the board made changes to the lift design before polling started because of residents' feedback, said Mr Sng Cheng Keh, director of the HDB's development and procurement department. As a result, he said, the lift shafts are now positioned further away from the blocks - 6.3m, rather than the planned 5m.

More modifications may be in store: To allow more light and ventilation, the HDB is looking into replacing part of the length of brick wall linking the lift shaft to the corridor with aluminium fins instead, so residents of affected units do not look out onto a full brick wall.

Such fins have been used in lift upgrading in other HDB blocks. They also help protect residents' privacy - the angle at which they are positioned blocks a direct view into a flat.

Despite the changes it plans, the HDB admits it is not possible to eliminate all inconveniences for affected units. It can only reduce them, said Mr Sng, explaining that LUP solutions had to be 'technically feasible, cost-effective and practical'. But despite the complaints of some, other residents say a lift upgrade is worth it.

Read the full story in Saturday's edition of The Straits Times

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