Shaping Singapore’s Unique Urban Land Use

Visiting New Zealand as a 13-year-old, URA Scholar Amanda Goh was enthralled by its fascinating landscape. It cemented her interest in geography and sparked her determination to make a difference in Singapore’s unique urban land use. Join her exciting and meaningful journey as an Executive Planner in the Physical Planning Group of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and discover how she co-creates Singapore’s future with her team.

The Wonders of Nature

The way the world works and how some of the most fascinating landscapes are created amazes me. When I first visited New Zealand as a 13-year-old, I was totally hooked and enthralled. It was enough to keep me wanting more as I dived into my Geography textbooks year after year.

I wanted to be part of the journey that makes Singapore so unique – where its physical size does not limit its ability to provide for the country’s and people’s needs. Coupled with my interest in Geography, this led me to apply for the URA scholarship, where I can contribute to Singapore’s land use planning.

The Little Red Dot Beckoned

Seven years after that first visit, I found myself back in New Zealand, at the University of Otago, to pursue my undergraduate degree in Geography as a URA scholar.

I often encountered this question as a student in New Zealand – Isn’t New Zealand the land of geological wonders? Why come home to the concrete jungle? Truth be told, I do miss the rolling hills of the Land of the Long White Cloud, but the longing to be a part of our island home’s urban development and growth was greater.

Not to mention how I swelled with pride when Singapore’s land use planning was lauded and used as a case study in an Urban Geography module I attended. It was a realisation that so much thought and effort went into ensuring our little red dot provides a quality living environment for everyone.

Makings of a Master Plan

There was a lot of getting used to when I first joined URA as a Planner in the Development Control Group. From staring at rocks to staring at building plans, from gazing up at mountains to squinting at sky-high skyscrapers in our beloved Central Business District (CBD), these adjustments were made so much more enjoyable through the company of fun-loving colleagues.

Generosity in sharing information and know-how are some things that helped build a strong foundation at the workplace for me. As is the warmth and camaraderie within and between teams. This spirit of sharing and collaboration within URA is something I hold dear and try to pass on to those around me.

A few rotations and years in, I now find myself in the challenging yet meaningful role of Master Planning – as an Executive Planner in the Physical Planning Group.

I work closely with agencies and stakeholders to formulate land use plans that guide short- and medium-term physical development of Singapore sustainably. It ensures that residents are well-served by transport, amenities, community facilities, and parks.

Beyond the multi-faceted work of planning, I came to appreciate the engagement and community involvement that goes into our land use development plans. From interest groups to academics, subject-matter experts, and the local community, it is heartening to see the outpouring of passion for the spaces around the island, showing how deeply we collectively care for Singapore. I have also learned a lot about the close coordination between agencies that makes it possible to carry out development plans flexibly and sustainably.

Full Steam Ahead

As we gear up for the next phase of the Master Plan through the Draft Master Plan 2025, I am excited to see more of us come together to co-create our future. It will be a busy and colourful (literally – look at our Master Plan colour palette!) season, one I am excited to be a part of.

It has been a good nine years in URA. Many of my colleagues have seen me through the different phases of my life. I came in as a fresh graduate and am now a proud (not-so-fresh-faced) mother of a 2-year-old.

Some things never change. The warmth and camaraderie no matter which floor of the URA building I am on, and the many familiar nods and smiles I see every day. I look forward to many more fulfilling days in URA as I contribute to its mission to make Singapore a great city to live, work, and play in.

URA Undergraduate Scholarship
Bachelor of Science (Geography), University of Otago, New Zealand
Now: Executive Planner, URA