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Woodlands, Pasir Ris, Toa Payoh set for a facelift

Woodlands, Pasir Ris, Toa Payoh set for a facelift.

A new rustic park and a nature promenade at the Woodlands Waterfront, as well as more family-oriented spaces and recreational options at Pasir Ris Park and Beach – these are part of the renewal plans for three housing towns.

These enhancements for Woodlands, Pasir Ris and Toa Payoh are the latest under the Remaking Our Heartland programme, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said on Sunday (April 2).

And for the first time, residents and community stakeholders were invited to join the early stages of the planning and share ideas on the improvements they hoped to see. Some 400 residents, ranging between 17 and 81 years old, participated in 11 focus group discussions in 2015.

The plans include a new town plaza in Woodlands Central, where large-scale activities can be held, and a new “Community Nexus” at Admiralty MRT station to serve as a “one-stop hub of amenities” for Woodlands residents, said the HDB.

The latter will consist of Kampung Admiralty, the Admiralty Place Neighbourhood Centre and the Woodlands Galaxy Community Club.

Toa Payoh Town Centre’s pedestrian mall will get more greenery, rest areas and shelters at certain stretches, while Pasir Ris Town Centre is set to have a new town plaza that will be a focal point for community activities.

While the plans will be implemented within the next five to 10 years after they are approved, the actual timeframe will differ from site to site.

In shaping the renewal plans, factors like character, community and connectivity were considered, said HDB director of physical planning Choo Chin Hua. For instance, the plans will build on each town’s character and features, enhance and provide more community spaces and facilities to bring residents together as well as improve connectivity networks to make it easier for residents to travel around.

Mr Choo added: “These plans will rejuvenate the town and benefit more than half a million residents living across the three towns.”

Among those who participated in the focus group discussions was housewife Siti Mariam, 36, who visits the Woodlands Waterfront on weekends to picnic and stroll around to soak in nature with her family.

She suggested having more direct bus services so the waterfront will be more accessible, as it is quite a distance to walk from her home in Woodlands Street 83. She also asked for more bicycle rental shops, barbeque pits and eateries, especially halal ones, to liven up the area. “It should be more like Punggol Waterway Park,” she said. “There’s a lot more dining options, and the kids can play nearby while the parents eat.

More community events and water sports like canoeing could be held at the waterfront too, said long-time resident of 25 years, Mr Chung See Fook, 49. He floated the idea of beautified linkways and bridges filled with greenery, such as a bridge between Causeway Point and Admiralty Park. “Instead of walking on the roadside with the cars, a bridge will be safer … and it creates the feeling as if we’re walking in a beautiful garden as we move from building to building,” said the engineer. Given that Woodlands acts as a major entry and exit point out of Singapore, having a livelier town centre filled with shops would raise its attractiveness to visitors, like at Changi Airport, he added.

Over at Toa Payoh, sales executive and resident Randy Lim, 30, felt that having more shopping centres in the area could draw crowds and add more variety to the shops around the HDB Hub. “If you look at Ang Mo Kio, it has AMK Hub and a good mix of old and new (shops),” he said. “The perception of Toa Payoh is that it’s very old and more of a (place for the) older generation.

Product design consultant Royston Phang, 35, felt that the Toa Payoh Town Park could “use an update”. He suggested an integrated park and alfresco food scene suitable for families and visitors to the nearby stadium.

He added: “As a creative, I hope to also see an area conducive for activities such as painting or public performances”. Meanwhile, Pasir Ris resident Vincent Tan, 59, welcomed the move to have a new plaza and said it could be where residents gather over a buffet or barbeque.

He also urged more neighbours to organise “a simple get-together” to interact at each block instead of relying only on the authorities to do so, “just like the good old days”. “Neighbours who always say ‘hello’ to each other can (take the initiative),” said the system analyst. “You can always (build) a lot of nice infrastructure in the neighbourhood, but it still won’t have the soul.”

Mr Matthias Tay, 27, who has lived in Pasir Ris for 24 years, felt there could be more green spaces and development of amenities like bigger gyms and more town council services to cope with the population influx.

The plans will be showcased at exhibitions held in Woodlands Central on April 16, at HDB Hub Atrium in Toa Payoh on April 22 and at Pasir Ris Town Centre on April 29. Each exhibition will run for two weeks.

Residents are invited to give feedback on the plans for their town. The HDB, together with various government agencies, will fine-tune the proposals.

The Remaking Our Heartland programme, aimed at transforming HDB estates into distinctive and endearing homes for Singaporeans, was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the 2007 National Day Rally.

The earlier estates identified were Punggol, Dawson and Yishun in 2007, and East Coast, Hougang and Jurong Lake in 2011.

Adapted from: TODAY, 3 April 2017