Friday 31 March 2017

Kallang River to be rejuvenated

Plans to turn Kallang River area into a lifestyle hub
URA seeks public feedback on ideas for transformation, which include cycling bridge
By Samantha Boh, The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2017

As Singapore's longest river traces its sinuous route from Lower Peirce Reservoir to the coast in Nicoll Highway, expressways and industrial estates take a toll on the scenery.

At Kallang Distripark in Geylang Bahru Road, for instance, sits the dull, boxlike shape of a disused rubber factory which has been converted into a warehouse.

But a plan to breathe life into the waterway and its surrounds has been put in motion, to transform it into a place where sportsmen kayak in the nearby Kallang River and residents cycle along seamless park connectors, for instance.

The 15ha private industrial estate has been identified as a potential site, among several others, that can be redeveloped as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) ambitious plan to turn the areas along the 10km river - almost three times longer than the iconic Singapore River - into a lifestyle hub.

Today, expressways and industrial estates cut into its path, but in years to come, the Government aims to redevelop certain plots and put in place new infrastructure so that it will one day be possible for residents to walk, jog or cycle from Lower Peirce Reservoir, where the river originates, to Gardens by the Bay and the Central Business District.

Among the URA's suggestions is building a cycling bridge that spirals over and across the Pan-Island Expressway, which would make it more convenient for cyclists and joggers to cross the 16-lane PIE. They currently have to use an overhead bridge.

It also hopes to build underpasses across Kallang Bahru Road and Upper Boon Keng Road so that people using the park connector will not need to navigate a traffic crossing.

About 800,000 people live within 2km of the Kallang River, and the URA hopes to build another 100,000 homes in the area in the next 20 years and further enhance the greenery there.

The agency's ideas for improvements are on display at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road, in the A River Runs Through It exhibition. It was launched by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong yesterday and will run until May 2. The URA hopes to get public feedback through the free exhibition, which is open from 9am to 6pm on weekdays.

Consultations with residents, landowners and other stakeholders will continue for the next few years, though more details can be expected next year, the URA said.

The budget for the project has not been finalised.

Ms Tang Hsiao Ling, director of JTC's Land Planning Division, said it will work closely with the URA to transform Kallang Industrial Estate into a vibrant mixed-use precinct with high-rise facilities to meet the evolving needs of industry.

"The revitalisation plans for the estate are still under discussion, and could potentially include inte- gration with future residential developments along the waterfront and parks, which will bring jobs closer to home," she said.

Property analysts said the redevelopment would boost property prices in the area.

Mr Ong Kah Seng, director of property market research company R'ST Research, said the river's central lo- cation will attract visitors and spur interest among property buyers.

"The property prices are set to be able to achieve long-term capital appreciation too, due to the prime lo- cation and the tremendous efforts to develop the locality," he said.

Mr Liam Wee Sin, deputy group chief executive of UOL Group, which will be redeveloping the site of the former HUDC estate Raintree Gardens, said the new estate will preserve as many existing rain trees lining the riverfront as possible, and will blend seamlessly with the waterfront promenade.

One resident who is excited about the potential upgrading is Mr Leong Sing Wee, 64, who has lived in Potong Pasir for more than 30 years. His home is a 10-minute walk from the Kallang River, and he often does brisk walks along its banks.

"The river is quiet at night, so hopefully with the developments, it can be as vibrant like Clarke Quay," said the finance consultant.

URA: Kallang River to be rejuvenated; Call for public feedback on concepts

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