Saturday, 10 September 2016

New Tengah HDB town heavy on greenery, light on cars

Tengah to have forest corridor and car-free town centre; first flats to be launched in 2018
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2016

A new Housing Board town the size of Bishan will be built in the west, with green features to suit its forested setting. These include Singapore's first car-free town centre and a 5km "forest corridor" with hiking trails.

The first new town to be developed since Punggol two decades ago, Tengah's development will be in line with the Government's push to be green and sustainable.

A forest fringe will run around the 700ha town. And a 100m-wide, 5km-long forest corridor will link Tengah to the surrounding green network between the western and central catchment areas.

"As we build this new town, we will integrate the developments with the surrounding ecosystem, and we will retain much of the existing natural landscape, so residents in Tengah will be able to experience the feeling of being at home with nature," said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong last night in announcing the Tengah master-plan at the HDB Awards dinner.



Located between Jurong East to the south, Choa Chu Kang to the north and Bukit Batok to the east, the Tengah area today is largely forest and scrubland.

But it will eventually contain 42,000 new homes: 30,000 units of public housing and 12,000 of private housing. The first public flats there will be launched in 2018.

Greenery will be woven through the town, from a large central park to "community farmways" that run through housing estates with gardens, play areas and farms.

As part of Singapore's car-lite efforts, all roads there will get dedicated walking and cycling paths. A car- free town centre will be set in parkland with traffic running beneath.

Said HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean: "Tengah marks a step for us to develop towns that are greener, more eco-friendly and sustainable, and with a smart element."



One consideration for future residents is that the town is close to the existing Tengah military airbase.

Responding to queries, HDB said Tengah will comply with planning guidelines "which also take into consideration possible surrounding noise sources and the permissible noise level". Blocks will generally go up to 14 to 15 storeys in height.

Tengah is just one part of the west's transformation. Upcoming Jurong Lake District, touted as the second Central Business District, lies to the south of Tengah. The town's western industrial area is also part of the Jurong Innovation District.

Tengah plans will be exhibited at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh from today until Sept 25, from 9am to 8pm. Members of the public are invited to visit and give their feedback.










Getting from home to shops will be a walk in the park
Tengah town centre will be set in a park and traffic will run underneath it; all roads will have walking and cycling trails
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2016

The first flats in Singapore's newest Housing Board town, Tengah, will be launched in 2018.

These will be among 30,000 eventual public housing units in the new "Forest Town" in the west.

And when the car-free town centre - Singapore's first - is built, nearby residents will be able to stroll from their flats to shops, foodcourts and the MRT station without having to cross a single road.

The town centre, named Market Place, will be set in a park and traffic will run underneath it instead. "This will make it friendlier for people and also for community activities," said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, announcing the masterplan for Tengah last night.

To encourage modes of transport other than driving, all roads in Tengah will have walking and cycling trails on both sides.

"The whole of Tengah, as we design it, will become a town that will support our car-lite vision, our vision of a greener Singapore, and a more people-friendly city," said Mr Wong.

For other transport modes, most residents will have bus stops within 300m of their homes.

But the MRT will take a while to arrive, with the Jurong Region Line estimated to be completed in a decade's time.

Space has also been reserved for possible future transport use, such as providing a path for self-driving cars.


The car-free town centre is part of the Park District - one of five in Tengah. The others are Plantation, Garden, Brickland and Forest Hill. They will each have a distinct identity even as they incorporate green elements.

Said HDB chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean: "The whole town is actually infused with greenery."

Plantation District, the first to be developed, will have a "community farmway" running through its housing estates, with gardens, play areas, fields and community farms.

Another community farmway will run through Garden District, near Tengah's 20ha Central Park.

A "forest amphitheatre" in the park will be a green gathering place and an existing canal will be transformed into a "forest stream".

Another striking feature of Tengah is a 100m-wide, 5km-long forest corridor, developed in collaboration with the National Parks Board. Within existing secondary forest - forest that grows on land previously disturbed by human activity - more rainforest trees will be planted for a richer habitat.

Tengah will also be the first entirely "smart" HDB town.

Smart features such as utilities monitoring systems, which have been piloted on a smaller scale in areas such as Yuhua, will be introduced across the entire Tengah town.

As Park District will be developed only later, Tengah's first residents will initially be without a town centre. But each district will have its own neighbourhood centres and amenities such as schools.

There will also eventually be a sports hub and a health and medical care facility.

The final two districts are Brickland, which takes inspiration from the brick factories that were set up there in the 1960s, and Forest Hill.

The latter will bring residents the closest to nature, bordered by the forest corridor on two sides and Central Park on another.










Tengah could be model for future estates, say experts
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2016

The green town of Tengah may point the way to Singapore's future housing estates.

Urban planning experts as well as nature enthusiasts welcomed unique features such as its car-free town centre and a forest corridor, and said the town could serve as a model for future estates.

Roads will run beneath the car-free town centre of the 700ha new town, the first Housing Board town to have such a feature.

Every road in the upcoming development will also feature dedicated walking and cycling paths on both sides of it.

Associate Professor Cheah Kok Ming, from the department of architecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS), said: "It is a fantastic idea to relegate cars to the basement level, which will improve air quality, make the town more walkable and safer for pedestrians as well."

He pointed out that, while it may be difficult to incorporate such features in existing residential estates, Tengah could serve as a guide for future estates.

The sentiment was echoed by members of the nature community, who lauded the green features planned for Tengah, envisioned as Singapore's first "forest town" surrounded by lush greenery.



The forest corridor will be approximately 100m wide and 5km long, and established in collaboration with the National Parks Board (NParks). The corridor will form part of the larger network of greenery that connects the Western Catchment Area and Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The HDB said the existing concrete canal will be replaced with a natural stream and water body. NParks will study how to retain the existing greenery within the forest corridor and how to enhance it by introducing more native forest species.

The forest corridor could help animals such as birds and insects cross between both green belts, said NUS bird researcher David Tan who had, in a recent study, discovered that the Tengah forest was an important corridor for birds such as the striped tit-babbler.

Dr Ho Hua Chew, vice-chairman of the Nature Society's (Singapore) conservation committee, also lauded the concept of the forest corridor and the overall plan that would help wildlife connectivity.

Nine species of birds threatened with extinction have been spotted in the secondary forests of Tengah, including the changeable hawk eagle and the red-wattled lapwing.

Dr Ho said: "It is very nice to know of our Government's desire to create a forest city."

Instead of creating greenery by planting trees, it is better to integrate buildings into an existing natural forest, said Dr Ho.

"Let's have more of the natural forest, which is already plentiful there," he added, calling for a nature park at the eastern corner of the development, instead of in its centre as is the plan by the HDB. This is because the vegetation there is denser and more birds have been spotted along the canal there.

But there were some reservations as to how things will pan out.

Mr Tan of NUS said that while he is glad the HDB had planned for a forest corridor, it remains to be seen if it will work in such an urban setting.

He wondered how vector control operations, such as mosquito fogging, would affect wildlife using the corridor, and whether the wildlife in the green belt would be buffered from residential areas.

Butterfly enthusiast Steven Chong, 59, who lives near the Tengah area, said the development was a good compromise between development and conservation.

"I've noticed fewer species of butterflies around the area as the surroundings are developed. The development of Tengah with the forest corridor is the best that I can hope for," he added.





Tengah is a cool town - with high-tech help
Planners will use computer simulations to achieve lower temperatures, optimum wind flow for new HDB town
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 10 Sep 2016

Tengah, a new town in the west designed to be green and sustainable, will have lower temperatures and optimum wind flow, thanks to computer simulations used in its planning.

This is the first time such technology will be used on a townwide level. The 700ha Tengah is the first new Housing Board town since Punggol, and will have features such as a forest corridor and car-free town centre.

Special software allows planners to model different configurations of Tengah town and collect data to guide their final design, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee at the launch of the Tengah exhibition yesterday.

The software shows how different arrangements of blocks and greenery could affect wind flow, heat from the sun and temperature.

"Our planners and architects at HDB, and engineers, can then decide how best to plan the building layout to achieve the best comfort level for our residents," said Mr Lee.



For instance, the software can help to determine the ideal placement of buildings to improve wind flow.

Areas that receive more heat from the sun can also be identified, and more greenery can be planted there to lower the temperature.

The software, called the Urban Microclimate Multi-physics Integrated Simulation Tool, is just one of the smart technologies to be implemented across Tengah, after being trialled on a smaller scale in areas such as Yuhua and Punggol Northshore.

Others include sensors to track the performance of public amenities such as lifts and lights, which could help identify problems early.

Flats will also come with adequate digital infrastructure such as data points so that residents can install smart technologies like a utilities monitoring system, if they so choose.

The first smart-enabled flats were launched in Punggol Northshore in May last year. Selection has recently ended, with almost all units booked.

HDB is working with a consortium led by NCS to develop a Smart Urban Habitat Masterplan, setting out a strategy for implementing smart initiatives in towns.

Tengah will also be sustainable. It will boast eco-friendly features introduced in previous projects, from water-saving eco-pedestals in toilets, to a smart pneumatic waste collection system that transports household rubbish underground.

The exhibition on Tengah is ongoing at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh until Sept 25, from 9am to 8pm daily.










Older families more ready to wait for Tengah flats
By Rahimah Rashith, The Straits Times, 10 Sep 2016

The exhibition on Singapore's newest Housing Board town, Tengah, drew curious visitors to the HDB Hub yesterday.

In many cases, the reactions of the would-be buyers were linked to how old they were.

For young couples looking to buy a flat soon, the new town in the west seemed too distant - both in terms of location and completion time. But older families were more willing to wait for Tengah to be developed.

Designed as a "forest town", Tengah's first batch of flats will be launched from 2018 onwards, meaning that the first residents will be able to move in only several years later.

The town will boast a 5km-long forest corridor and Singapore's first car-free town centre.

Despite its attractions, some found the wait too long.

"A key consideration for young people is the immediacy of the projects itself, rather than something that's not even being built yet," said trainee lawyer Gerald Lim, 27.

Marketing professional Ellie S., 27, said it was hard to plan properly when flats would be ready for occupancy only many years down the road. "Some flats take four years to build after the launch," she added.

Instead of waiting for Tengah estate's flat launch in 2018, some couples are eyeing flats that will be available earlier.

"I am looking for a place that is ready for me to sign up for now - 2018 is too far to wait because there are flat launches every year," said Mr Mohd Kader, 26, an accountant who is looking for a flat with his partner. He also felt the place was too far away from the centre of town.

Tengah residents will have bus stops within 300m of their homes. But the Jurong Region Line, which will serve Tengah, is estimated to be completed only in a decade's time.

Others did not see such factors as hurdles.

"We were intrigued by the car-free town centre and wanted to find out more," said Mr Pek Kay Hong, 52, an engineer. "One of our children might go to NTU when they are older, or in the future, all of them might work in this area."

Older people who are not in a rush to buy a flat see Tengah estate as an exciting opportunity.

Said Mr Foo Sang Chong, 49, who is working in the oil field industry: "This is a dream area for me, with all its greenery and eco-friendly living."



Related
Unveiling the Masterplan for Tengah : At Home With Nature

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