Monday, 24 April 2017

Remaking Our Heartland: Toa Payoh and Pasir Ris to get makeovers

Toa Payoh to get new flats, new parks in makeover
A few thousand flats will be built on two sites, including one next to Caldecott MRT station
By Melissa Lin, The Sunday Times, 23 Apr 2017

Singapore's oldest HDB town, Toa Payoh, will undergo a facelift which will see the building of a few thousand new flats.

There will be two new public housing areas: a 10ha site next to the Caldecott MRT station on the Circle Line and the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line in Toa Payoh Rise, and a 4ha site in Toa Payoh East, next to the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery.

The exact number of new flats is yet to be finalised. But analysts say that the two plots could fit roughly 5,000 units, depending on the flat sizes. There are currently about 37,000 flats in Toa Payoh.

The new flats, to be completed within the next five to 10 years, come under the Housing Board's Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme. Nine towns and estates have been identified for renewal - Punggol, Dawson, Yishun, East Coast, Hougang, Jurong Lake, Woodlands, Pasir Ris and Toa Payoh.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is also a Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP, launched an exhibition on the area's renewal plans at the HDB Hub Atrium yesterday.

Property analyst Ong Kah Seng expects the two new housing developments to be much sought-after, given their central location.

"So far, in terms of positioning, Toa Payoh has leveraged more on its central location rather than its vibrancy," said Mr Ong, director of R'ST Research. "The new flats can help energise the whole estate."

Build-To-Order flats in Toa Payoh - the nearest HDB estate to the Orchard Road shopping district by MRT - are very popular. In 2014, nine applicants vied for each of the four-room flats up for sale in the new Toa Payoh Apex estate.

The makeover will also inject a whimsical note into the estate. One of the town's icons - the 38-year-old dragon playground in Toa Payoh Lorong 6 - may be replicated in the form of quirky street furniture such as benches in a new park, alongside other symbols.

In the town centre and neighbourhoods, more greenery, shelters and seating will be added to give residents more space to interact. There will also be two new parks.

The new developments will not be made at the expense of the charm and heritage of the mature town, said the HDB.

Toa Payoh was the first satellite town built by the HDB, in 1964. An arts and heritage corner in the town centre will feature storyboards about how Toa Payoh grew from swampland to a town. A model of the town centre in the 1970s will also be on display.

Two new heritage markers will be installed at the dragon playground and the unique Y-shaped Block 53, which has hosted foreign dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II.

The estate will also be made more senior-friendly. As a mature town, Toa Payoh has a higher proportion of elderly residents, with three in 10 residents aged 60 and above. Ramps and handrails will be installed and paving will be levelled.

Lorong 5 and Lorong 8/8A have been designated Silver Zones, aimed at making roads safer for the elderly. The zones will have markings to remind pedestrians to check the roads before crossing.

Mrs Chia-Nge Tak Heng, 57, who has lived in Toa Payoh for 42 years, said such features would make it safer for her 79-year-old mother, who uses a wheelchair, to get around.

The HDB engaged about 100 residents and grassroots leaders in June 2015 in developing these plans.

Dr Ng said yesterday: "Over 50 years of continuous improvement, Toa Payoh has been transformed into a modern, vibrant town with much sought-after flats. The ROH programme will make Toa Payoh... even better."

Toa Payoh was last made over under the Estate Renewal Strategy in the 1990s. Although it has been upgraded several times since, an HDB spokesman said the efforts this time will be more comprehensive.

Pasir Ris remake to add 2,000 new flats, boost access to town's coastal charms
Elevated greenway giving quicker, easier way to coastal park among key features
By Audrey Tan, The Sunday Times, 30 Apr 2017

From 2,000 new flats that will help keep multi-generational families close, to an elevated "highway" linking the MRT station to a waterfront park, Pasir Ris' coastal charms will become more accessible to more people.

More dining and shopping options are also on the cards, in the form of a new mixed-use development that the Housing Board wants to build next to Pasir Ris MRT station.

These are some of the plans for Pasir Ris announced yesterday by the HDB, as part of the town's rejuvenation.

The upgrading will be the town's first major one since flats were built there 30 years ago.

HDB plans to build 2,000 public housing units adjacent to Pasir Ris Park. The new flats come on top of the town's 29,500 existing stock of public flats.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, unveiled the plans and said the new flats will help cater to the needs of multi-generational families.

He said: "This is important for all of you, because your children grow up, they're settling down and looking to buy a home. I know many of you hope that your children can continue to live close by with you here."

An upgraded town centre is also on the cards, with an improved bus interchange - one that will come equipped with a dedicated pickup and drop-off point for full-time national servicemen undergoing military training on Pulau Tekong.

Another key feature of the upgrading is the 1.2km-long Central Greenway, which will run from Pasir Ris Park, through the town centre, and end near the Tampines Expressway where the existing Costa Ris HDB project is.

A 500m stretch of it will be elevated above ground, allowing residents to get from Pasir Ris MRT station to Pasir Ris Park in just 10 minutes on foot, or five minutes by bicycle. The greenway removes the need for people to stop and wait at traffic lights.

This feature will make Pasir Ris Park, Singapore's only readily accessible coastal public park, even more convenient to get to. Park-goers need only hop on an MRT and take a short walk to get there.

Singapore's other coastal parks include East Coast Park, Changi Beach Park, Sembawang Park and West Coast Park.

In explaining why the Central Greenway is a feature unique only to Pasir Ris, Dr Chong Fook Loong, HDB group director for research and planning, told The Sunday Times it is because Pasir Ris is the only estate to have its town centre located within 500m of the regional park and coastal beach area.

Costa Ris resident Michelle Leong, 29, said the greenway would make it more convenient for her to take her eight-month-old daughter Megan to the park for outings.

There are other treats in store for the current 110,600 residents of Pasir Ris, including the upgrading of four existing neighbourhood centres and improved neighbourhood parks with more amenities such as new playgrounds, linkways and fitness corners.

The plans for Pasir Ris come under HDB's Remaking Our Heartland programme. Nine towns and estates were identified for renewal, with Pasir Ris rounding up the list. The plans are now on display next to Pasir Ris MRT station for public feedback. A budget has yet to be finalised.

IT professional Daniel Dong, 46, moved from Tampines six years ago as he enjoyed the nature in Pasir Ris. However, he still goes to Tampines to run errands, as there are more malls and amenities, such as banks, there.

He welcomed the enhancements to Pasir Ris. "With the new facilities, I wouldn't have to go to Tampines to run errands any more."

The exhibition at Pasir Ris will run till May 14, and feedback can be given on HDB's website at

Toa Payoh to Get Facelift with More Facilities and New Housing Developments

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