Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Bukit Canberra: Sembawang to get new community and sports hub that focuses on area's heritage and nature

Greenery, heritage to make a difference at Sembawang hub
Admiralty House to be part of community space; hawker centre will be eco-friendly and ideas include forest trails
By Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 4 Jul 2016

Sembawang will soon be home to a 12ha integrated sports and community hub with unique attributes - it will be located in a lush setting that celebrates the area's greenery and heritage.

Focusing on the themes of water, greenery, health and food, the hub is expected to have a swimming pool in a natural and rustic environment, multi-play courts, and an eco-friendly hawker centre with efficient energy lighting and water-saving fittings. Other ideas include forest trails.

The new community space will also include Admiralty House, now gazetted as a national monument. It was built by the British in 1939 and had served under British rule as the residence of the flag officer for the Malayan area.

The house is now occupied by Furen International School, a private education institution, which will vacate the premises in 2020.

Effort is being made to preserve the natural greenery surrounding the hub, which will be a five-minute walk from the Sembawang MRT station. While approximately 200 of the 761 trees on Admiral Hill, where the hub will be located, will be removed or relocated to make way for the development, another 1,000 will be planted in the area.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, along with the other MPs for Sembawang GRC, attended a roadshow outside Sembawang MRT station yesterday, promoting the hub.

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung, who is also an MP for the GRC, said: "Our overall approach is to build facilities into the forested area, rather than planting trees around the facilities. In a densely built-up city-state like Singapore, it is important that here in Sembawang, we have a community space that will retain the heritage and greenery of the area and preserve many of the key features in the terrain."

Various agencies will be working together to make the hub a reality, including Sport Singapore, the National Parks Board and the National Heritage Board.

There are also plans for a senior care centre providing services such as daycare and physiotherapy for the elderly in the area.

A completion date for the hub has yet to be announced as ideas for the facilities are still being solicited, though certain facilities are expected to be up by 2019.

Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "We are engaging residents for their thoughts on growing these ideas into a reality that they will embrace and enjoy."

Focus group discussions for residents will be held this month and next.

Engineer Kam Hwai Mun, 40, who has lived in Sembawang for 10 years, said: "We have been waiting for some of these facilities, like the hawker centre and the swimming pool, for many years."

* Bukit Canberra: Groundbreaking ceremony for Sembawang integrated hub, hawker centre and pools ready by 2020
Facilities in sports and community hub will include swimming pools and other features
By Rachel Au-Yong, Housing Correspondent, The Straits Times, 2 July 2018

By June 2020, Sembawang residents will no longer have to go to Yishun for their daily swims or cheap meals.

Instead, a car-lite sports and community hub, with facilities such as swimming pools and a hawker centre, will spring up on a 12ha site next to Sembawang MRT station.

Yesterday, Sembawang GRC MPs held a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony for the hub, Bukit Canberra, attended by 800 residents.

"Finally, the project that some residents have been waiting a long time for is here," said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.

The other MPs were Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, Dr Lim Wee Kiak and Mr Vikram Nair.

Led by Sport Singapore, the hub contains the country's second Town Sports and Recreation Centre under its Sports Facilities Master Plan, after Heartbeat @ Bedok.

This is a $1.5 billion project to provide citizens with greater access to a wider range of sports facilities around the country by 2030. The agency declined to give the cost of the Bukit Canberra project alone.

Unlike standalone swimming complexes or jogging tracks, such centres house multiple sports facilities under one roof.

At Bukit Canberra, facilities include an indoor sports hall with 500 seats, a 1,500 sq m ActiveSG gym - the largest yet - that can cater to all abilities, a six-lane sheltered swimming pool and an eight-lane lap pool. But beyond sports facilities, the hub will also bring together multiple services and features to give residents more chances to relax and interact with one another.

For example, there will be 3km of running trails, of various difficulties, snaking around the hub.

The park will also feature a "food forest" and "fruit orchard", with edible crops such as the cocoa tree and roselle plant. There will also be community gardens for residents to show off their green fingers.

Integrated into the park will be heritage story boards for visitors to learn more about the area's past as a naval base, including the Former Admiralty House which used to accommodate key British military leaders based in Singapore.

There will also be plenty of healthcare options, including a polyclinic and senior care centre providing rehabilitation services as well as home-based services to frail and elderly residents.

But Mr Khaw said he hoped the new park and sports facilities would encourage residents to commit to a healthy lifestyle, so "our polyclinic will have no business".

"(The doctors') prescription will include an exercise routine. This time - no excuses," he said.

He added that he had given consultants several conditions, including minimal cutting down of trees to preserve the area's greenery, and fewer carpark spaces.

The hub will open in phases, and Phase 1 is expected to be fully operational by September 2021. A second phase, taking in the restoration of Admiralty House, will follow.

Parts of the hub were initially set to be opened by this year, but it was pushed back to flesh out the project more fully, Mr Ong had said in 2016.

Among the residents looking forward to the hub's completion was crane operator Yong Teck Kwek.

The 56-year-old said he was looking forward most to swimming in the new pools which, "at my age is easier on the joints than jogging".

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