Dr Michael Teo's flat-roofed corner terrace house in Greenridge Crescent stands out among the more than 70 Tudor-style homes that were built in the 1980s.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR
When Dr Michael Teo's modern terrace house was built last year, it caused a ruckus, with neighbours complaining that it did not blend in with all the other houses in the private estate near Toh Tuck Road.
His three-storey flat-roofed corner terrace house in Greenridge Crescent stands out among the more than 70 Tudor-style homes – with a timber and pitched-roof design – that were built in the 1980s.
The house, along with another that looks set to lose the Tudor design, has divided residents.
Dr Teo told The Straits Times: "The construction has been done in accordance to the law. So there's no problem here. Anybody who buys the house can rebuild."
About 80 per cent of the residents have signed a petition to preserve "the unique character and structure" of Greenridge Crescent.
Perhaps the ones most unhappy are Dr Teo's immediate neighbours.
Mrs Betty Wee, whose home shared a conjoined pitched roof and wall, said she was shocked when half of the roof was demolished early last year.
"The issue is Greenridge Crescent is a uniform Tudor estate… You can't simply allow a development that is so incongruous with the whole estate," she said.
Mr Ignatius Lee, whose home faces Dr Teo's, said there are better ways to increase built-up area and modernise a home in the estate. When he moved in about five years ago, he modernised his home and added a swimming pool.
"I kept the roof because it's a signature of this place," he said.
"If we show more examples of how homes can be modernised, it may actually add value and character to the estate."
At least two letters have been sent on behalf of residents to Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Sim Ann and the Eng Kong and Cheng Soon Neighbourhood Committee (NC).
One letter, dated March 19, stated residents were in agreement that "any change to building facade (has) to retain key elements of Tudor-style design". A majority of residents want the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to advise Dr Teo to add a pitched roof. A covenant – or an agreement – from the original Greenridge Crescent developer was attached to the letter.
The NC's chairman, Mr Mark Yuen, confirmed that a group of residents had approached him and Ms Sim earlier this year .
Ms Sim and community volunteers have met and corresponded with the residents, he added.
In a letter on March 29, Ms Sim told residents the "preliminary view is that the covenant does not appear to be worded in a way that binds the owner from making changes to the Tudor-style facade of the house".
She added she would still help residents explore the possibility of a "private covenant" among residents committed to retaining certain design elements in the facade.
The redevelopment of Dr Teo's house had been approved as it complied with the URA's guidelines.
"While we understand that some people prefer to retain uniformity within their estate, there are others who may want to redevelop their property to meet their changing lifestyle needs," a URA spokesman said, adding that "it would not be reasonable to insist that all landed housing estates keep to their original design, height or size".
But the idea of a private covenant does not appeal to some residents. A resident in her 70s, who gave her name only as Madam Chua said: "If enforcing a private covenant means a potential buyer is not able to redesign freely, then I'm not for it."
Written by Zaihan Mohamed Yusof for The Straits Times. Click here to read the original story.