Commercial developments zoned "Commercial" in the Master Plan are intended to provide commercial spaces to support our economic activities. They are meant to serve as secular spaces for people from all segments of our society. Exclusive use of commercial developments for religious purposes would constitute a material change of use of such developments into places of worship. Religious activities should thus be conducted at sites that are specially designated for worship. These sites are zoned “Place of Worship” in the Master Plan. Changing the use of commercial premises for exclusive religious uses is therefore not permitted as religious use is not in line with the planning intention for commercial developments.
Religious use on a non-exclusive and limited basis may be considered on a case by case basis if such use is not likely to cause disturbances such as noise, parking or traffic problems. To ensure that commercial uses remain the predominant use within sites zoned Commercial, the following set of guidelines are put in place to guide the non-exclusive and limited use of commercial spaces for religious purposes:
- Only existing approved auditorium, function hall, ballroom, convention hall and cinema/cineplex located within commercial and hotel developments can be considered for non-exclusive and limited religious use, so long as such uses are not likely to cause disamenities and traffic problems;
- The premises shall not be owned by or leased exclusively to religious organisations. The premises should be available to be rented out for other commercial events such as seminars, conferences and performances, etc;
- The maximum space within a commercial development that can be considered for non-exclusive and limited religious use shall not exceed a Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 20,000 sqm or 20% of total GFA of the development, whichever is lower. Each religious organisation is limited to use up to 10,000 sqm in any commercial space at any one time. This is to ensure that a single religious organisation does not dominate a particular commercial development by taking up a very large amount of space. The exact quantum of these caps have been determined with reference to existing usage patterns, but taking into consideration the need to ensure that the predominant use of these premises remain “Commercial”, and that different religious organisation have the opportunity to access these large venues for their activities;
- The use of the commercial space for religious activities shall not exceed two days a week including Saturday and Sunday;
- There shall be no display of signages , advertisements or posters of the religious use at the premises or on the exterior of the building. The premises should not be furnished to resemble a worship hall and there shall be no display of religious symbols, icons or any religious paraphernalia at or within the venue when it is not in use by the religious organisation; and
- The building owner and the religious organisation shall take appropriate measures to ensure that the activities do not cause disturbances to the public.
In addition, owners of convention centres must provide documentary proof to show that the religious use will not compromise the staging of events during weekends.