Saturday, 1 April 2017

Woodlands Checkpoint to be extended to Old Woodlands Town Centre

Woodlands Checkpoint to get makeover amid rising traffic needs
Two lots of land acquired to help with extension of facility for upgrading works
By Seow Bei Yi and Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times, 31 Mar 2017

Woodlands Checkpoint (WCP), currently among the world's busiest land crossings, will be extended into the nearby Old Woodlands Town Centre as part of efforts to accommodate growing traffic needs and ensure secure immigration clearance.

Two lots of private land - one housing Woodlands Point and another a disused cinema - were acquired by the State yesterday for the extension, said the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

The acquisitions will enable upgrading works to be progressively carried out at the WCP without compromising checkpoint operations, said the SLA and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

"Since the opening of WCP in 1999, traveller and vehicle volumes through WCP have been increasing over the years, while the security threat has heightened significantly," they said in a statement. "The WCP has to be upgraded to meet growing traffic needs and ensure that immigration clearance remains secure."

The WCP, along with the Tuas Checkpoint, are among the world's busiest, clearing up to 400,000 travellers daily - a number that touches 430,000 during festive peak periods.

The two lots acquired - each measuring 1,632 sq m - are to the east of the WCP and located at 268 and 270 Woodlands Centre Road.

ICA is conducting a feasibility study to determine the optimal design of the checkpoint extension and the extent of upgrading and redevelopment works required on the facility.

This will take into account the capacity of the checkpoint, overall traffic flow and upcoming developments such as the Johor Baru- Singapore Rapid Transit System, said ICA.

An agreement on the Rapid Transit System, a quick shuttle service from Johor Baru via Singapore's upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT line, is set to be inked next year.

The latest acquisition will affect a total of three lessees and 14 tenants, said the SLA, adding that the Housing Board is the head lessee of both properties.

"Market value compensation as at the date of gazette will be paid," said a spokesman, adding that those affected will have 18 months - or up to Oct 1, 2018 - to hand over the properties. "SLA will work closely with the affected lessees and tenants, and assist them throughout the acquisition process," added the spokesman.

Among the lessees is C.J. Management & Development, which runs Woodlands Point. The company did not respond to queries on the acquisition yesterday.

The announcement did not come as a surprise to most tenants and residents, who had noticed growing traffic jams in the area as well as thinning business at the sites being acquired.

When The Straits Times visited the affected areas yesterday, only seven shop units at the four-storey Woodlands Point were open.

The neighbouring 270 Woodlands Centre Road, which used to have an old cinema, now houses just a childcare centre.

Some remarked on the changing face of the area in the light of the acquisition. Said Mr K.M. Wong, 59, who works at a pool parlour at Woodlands Point: "It is a must for Singapore to develop. There is nothing to be sad about.

"Even the neighbouring blocks will eventually have to go too."

Tenants, staff back land acquisition to extend Woodlands Checkpoint
Business has been slowing in that part of Old Woodlands Town Centre
By Ng Huiwen and Abigail Ng WY, The Straits Times, 31 Mar 2017

Almost every day for the past 10 years, Madam Chong Yoke Chan, 62, has taken a bus from her nearby home to work at pool hall Leisure Cue in Woodlands Point.

But even so, she supports the Government's move to acquire the building, as well as an adjacent lot of land, to build an extension to the Woodlands Checkpoint.

"I have been here for so long. But I can understand why they need more space for the checkpoint since there are so many people passing through it now," said Madam Chong.

Like her, many tenants and employees of shops at 268 and 270 Woodlands Centre Road - the two lots of private land acquired yesterday - said they welcome the new developments in the area.

Many added that business has been slowing in recent years, with low footfall to that part of the Old Woodlands Town Centre.

The owner of Bait House in Woodlands Point, who wanted to be known only as Mr Koh, said two Singapore Land Authority officers were at his shop yesterday morning to give him the notice of acquisition.

"It is about time that they developed this place. Business has been slow for me all along, with just a few regular customers," said Mr Koh, who has been selling fish bait there for about two years and plans to move his business to the east.

"Not many people want to travel to my shop here, because of the bad jams at the checkpoint."

Agreeing, security guard Sabaruddin Salleh, 62, who has worked at Woodlands Point for about eight years, said the plans for the area are "good for the future", as he has seen traffic to and from the checkpoint growing over the past few years.

He said the building used to be vibrant, with a travel agency, enrichment centre and Internet cafe at one point, but many tenants have come and gone in the past few years.

Only about seven shops - including a McDonald's outlet, an arcade and a shop selling tupperware - were open yesterday at the four-storey Woodlands Point. The majority of units were vacant.

According to notices of acquisition, the lessee of Woodlands Point is C.J. Management & Development. Queries to the company were directed to real estate firm Jack Investment, which is owned by property veteran Han Chee Juan. He reportedly developed landed housing projects like The Teneriffe in Bukit Timah, and condominiums like Gilstead Mansions.

But some lamented that the acquisition might lead to the area's old-school charm ebbing away.

Mr Abas Kasmani, 64, recalled how he would visit shops in the bustling old town centre with his grandmother in the 1970s and 1980s.

"It is very old school and you don't have many places like that in Singapore any more," said Mr Abas, who frequents the area thrice a week with his friends after work.

Mr Chong Chee Seyong, 70, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who has lived in Woodlands for more than 30 years, said: "I will support the businesses here until they really have to go."

Developments in the works for Woodlands
By Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 31 Mar 2017


Some 7 million sq ft of commercial space is planned for the Woodlands Regional Centre. This comprises two parcels of land:

• Retail hub Woodlands Central, a 30ha area around Woodlands MRT and Causeway Point.

• Woodlands North Coast, a 70ha area between Republic Polytechnic and Woodlands Waterfront. The area will house a business park as well as have land set aside for small and medium-sized enterprises.


Set to open in phases from 2022, this healthcare complex will include an acute care hospital, community hospital and nursing home. With some 1,800 beds, it is expected to be the largest general hospital here.


This 21.5km road linking Woodlands to the city will likely be completed by 2021. It will be the first highway here to have a dedicated bus lane.

A cycling path and a wide pedestrian walkway will also be built along the entire route of the expressway, which will pass through towns such as Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.


The new Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), slated to open in stages from 2019, stretches from Woodlands to Bedok. Six stations along the route, including Woodlands and Orchard stations, will intersect with other MRT lines and serve as interchanges.


A cross-border MRT system, linked by a high bridge between Johor and Woodlands, is also in the pipeline.

The Rapid Transit System link will connect Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus station to the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, where it will join the TEL.

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