Friday 15 March 2013

Controversial Bishan nursing home designed to please

Bishan facility addresses concerns of height, safety, distance from blocks
By Priscilla Goy And Cheng Jingjie, The Straits Times, 13 Mar 2013

THE design for a controversial new nursing home has been revealed, 10 months after residents protested against it.

The plans for a new Lions Home for the Elders in Bishan have been drawn up to take into account their concerns.

When told last May that the home was to be built on a public football field, around 40 people petitioned for it to be situated elsewhere. Many complained it would deprive children of a play area and block the breeze coming into their flats. They also cited concerns about noise and road safety.

The Bishan East Citizens' Consultative Committee has now revealed preliminary plans for the home along with artist impressions in a booklet which was sent to residents in the area.

The pamphlet, which included a letter from the Ministry of Health (MOH), said the home will have a "modern facade" complementing the landscape.

Other changes had been made in response to residents' feedback, including a cap on the building height at six storeys instead of the intended eight.

Building work on the 260-bed home is expected to begin later this year and be completed in late 2014. It will have a driveway to create direct access from Bishan Street 13, so vehicles can enter and exit without using a nearby HDB car park.

In response to suggestions from grassroots leaders, a speed hump will be installed to slow down vehicles exiting the home.

There will also be more space between the home and surrounding HDB blocks 175, 181, 182 and 186. Mr Wong Kan Seng, MP for the area, said the space is at least 25m wide - more than the current distance between the blocks and the boundary of the site.

Minister of State for Health Amy Khor cited the home in Parliament on Tuesday as an example of how the Government is planning to design new nursing homes to be "aesthetically pleasing yet functional".

Of 10 residents The Straits Times spoke to, most liked the improved design.

"It is quite modern and the traffic issue should be solved," said student James Fung, 22.

Church minister Ng Wee Keong, 42, said the authorities had been "doing a fair job with consulting the residents".

Residents have been invited to a closed-door dialogue session with the MOH this Saturday.

Technician Mohamad Isa, 52, said the football field was a place where children could play for free. "But for charity's sake we have to build it," he said of the home.

The Lions Home for the Elders is a charity which runs two similar homes in Toa Payoh and Bedok South for the sick, frail and poor.

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