Buyer surprised by lack of exhaust system in eatery
Not all premises sold as a restaurant space come equipped with an exhaust system that allows cooking with heavy heat.
Businessman G.S. Chua, 63, found that out after buying a 21 sq m unit at the two-year-old WIS@Changi in Changi Road for about $3,500 per sq ft.
It was advertised by developer RP Changi as a restaurant, but Mr Chua was surprised there was no exhaust system. As a result, he said, he lost a potential tenant who backed out after the National Environment Agency (NEA) did not grant him a licence for a stall.
He said the 16 commercial units in the building were described as "restaurants". He and six other owners are spending about $25,000 in total to retrofit their units with exhaust systems.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority defines a restaurant as one whose primary purpose is the sale of food for consumption on its premises. These include snack bars and fast-food restaurants but not bars and canteens.
It does not specify infrastructural must-haves for the various uses. Instead, it is governed by the NEA, which manages food licences.
The NEA said all food shop operators "conducting cooking activities that generate fumes and smell (have) to ensure all fumes and smell are extracted immediately and treated with an air cleaning system".
Mr Teo Hong Lim, chief executive of Roxy-Pacific Holdings of which RP Changi is a subsidiary, said: "It is not mandatory for all restaurants to have exhausts, and at the end of the day, WIS@Changi tenants are still able to sell food."
He said those wishing to do heavy cooking can install an electrical exhaust system. Most units operate as simple cafes.
Mr Chua hopes the incident will lead agencies and developers to spell out the different requirements pertaining to different types of units more clearly.