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Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance at the launch of the "Our Neighbourhoods: A Look into the Future" exhibition at the URA Centre

  Published: 16 October 2017

I am very happy to join you today for the launch of this exhibition on our future neighbourhoods.

All of us know and recognise that our lives are centred around our homes and neighbourhoods. They are our sanctuaries where we return to after school and after work. They are places where our children grow up and play, and where we spend our free time relaxing and interacting with our neighbours. 

We want to make sure that our future residential precincts continue to meet the aspirations and needs of Singaporeans. When we engage Singaporeans, there are three things which they tell us are important to their homes. First, they would like better connectivity to public transport. Second, they want good access to greenery and nature. Third, they want their homes also to be vibrant community hubs, where they can have convenient access to amenities, as well as become gathering points for interaction with neighbours and friends.

Our planners have been looking at how we design our residential precincts to best meet these aspirations. Today’s exhibition showcases some preliminary ideas in three upcoming residential precincts. 

We have Kampong Bugis, which is a precinct of around 17-hectares located around Kallang Road. It is planned for private residential use, with the potential to yield around 4,000 new homes.

Also, there is Holland Plain, a private residential precinct along Old Holland Road, which is just behind the current Methodist Girls’ School. This is a 34-hectare site which has the potential to yield up to 2,500 new homes.

Finally, there is Bayshore, a future 60-hectare residential precinct located next to the East Coast Park. It has the potential to yield 12,000 new homes, with a mix of public and private housing.

Let me elaborate on what we hope to achieve in these three new neighbourhoods. 

Connectivity 

Our first idea is to enhance connectivity and make it even more convenient for residents to move around, both to-and-fro their desired locations and also within their neighbourhoods.

To achieve this, we are investing significantly in our public transport system, expanding it and planning for the vast majority of homes in Singapore to be within a 10-minute walk from an MRT station.

All three upcoming precincts will be within a comfortable 5 to 10-minute walk to one or more MRT stations. More importantly, we will also seek to enhance the last-mile connection from home to the MRT stations. 

For example, in Kampong Bugis, we will be adding a new underpass and footbridge to provide direct access to the nearby Kallang and Lavender MRT stations. 

In Bayshore, the residential precinct will be nestled between the upcoming Bayshore and Bedok South MRT stations on the upcoming Thomson-East Coast line. We will plan for sheltered walkways to connect residents to both stations.

Likewise, at Holland Plain, we are looking at new pedestrian walkways to connect the residential units to the nearby King Albert Park MRT Station.

With better connectivity, we hope more residents will choose public transport, and support our overall move to a car-lite society. Doing so means that the planners can set aside less space for roads and carparks in the precinct. This is not just a theoretical point. Looking at Bayshore, for example, the planners think that the road carriages can be reduced from 3-lanes to 2-lanes, if there is this move to a car-lite society.

This means we will free up space at the ground-level, where residents can enjoy wider pedestrian walkways and even dedicated cycling paths. Also, it will mean more greenery and community spaces within the residential precincts.

Greenery

Our second idea is to more integration between our residential spaces with greenery and nature. This is also something many Singaporeans have indicated they would like to see in their homes.

Today, we are already a garden city. We have a comprehensive network of nature reserves, parks and park connectors, complemented by waterways and reservoirs. We want to take this to the next level – we will do more to bring these green and blue spaces right to our residents’ doorsteps. Again, I will illustrate how we intend to do this in the three precincts.

Firstly, Kampong Bugis is prime waterfront space along the Kallang Basin. There is an existing Kallang Riverside Park at the south of the precinct. We hope to give it a new lease of life and transform this space into a lush and vibrant waterfront park for all to enjoy.

Secondly, in Holland Plain, the area currently has a natural sloping terrain, and is also close to the Bukit Timah First diversion canal. We will plan for community green and wetland parks in this site. The green spaces will cover 30 per cent of the entire precinct – quite a fair bit of greenery for the residents to enjoy. This will be linked to our park connectors and the surrounding landed housing areas to facilitate easy access. This place has also direct access to the Rail Corridor which runs along the western edge of the precinct. I believe when the Rail Corridor is ready, residents will be able to enjoy it right from their doorstep.

Thirdly, in Bayshore, we are also doing similar things to enhance greenery. For the new Bayshore precinct, there can be a new linear park along the old coastline which was present before reclamation took place in the 1960s. That coastline exists beside the existing row of low-rise residential developments along Upper East Coast Road. Beyond the precinct itself, Bayshore is conveniently located to the East Coast Park. We will build a new landscaped bridge across the East Coast Parkway, so that residents can access the beach and park very conveniently. Bayshore will be a new gateway to the park and beach.

Community

Finally, in all of these new neighbourhoods, we will nurture a stronger sense of community. We want to strengthen the ‘kampong’ spirit in our modern urban habitats. We can do so through well-designed public spaces and facilities. In Bayshore, we are looking at courtyard spaces in residential blocks which can offer a diverse range of social amenities including childcare and eldercare facilities. These also serve as important nodes for community activities and for residents to get together. All of these courtyard spaces will be connected by a 1-kilometre long main street which will run through the precinct, and serve as a community spine.

In Kampong Bugis, we are looking to introduce more porosity in the design of the precinct to make it a more open and inclusive neighbourhood. For example, the traditional fences you see in private condominiums can be replaced by softer boundaries, so that the overall area looks more open and accessible. More commercial and community facilities can also be introduced on the ground floors of the residential blocks so that they can be easily accessed by not just by residents, but also members of the public. We are exploring similar concepts in the Holland Plain precinct.

Building our Future Homes Together

I have shared some broad planning concepts, but the ideas are not limited to just these three areas. In fact, they can be scaled and adapted all over Singapore. They highlight the possibilities that we can look forward to in the future of residential housing in Singapore. These ideas are not cast in stone. We want to continue to engage Singaporeans on the kind of neighbourhoods they want to live in, so we can further improve our design to best meet our peoples’ aspirations and needs. In the coming months, we will actively engage the communities around the three precincts to better refine our plans in the lead-up to their launches. 

Kampong Bugis will come first.  We will launch the site sometime over the next one to two years. As we announced already, we will appoint a master developer for Kampong Bugis. This will be done through a concept-price tender, or a two-envelope system. As part of the concept, we have some ideas and will continue to get feedback. The ideas for the precinct will be captured and coded in the concept requirement for the tender. We will stipulate that as conditions in the tender, and it will be a two-stage process for us to identify the best master developer. 

The master developer will have obligations to fulfil, but also it will have the flexibility to optimise the design of the entire precinct. This allows the various parts to be built in a more integrated manner and for more efficient district-wide infrastructure, for example, putting in place a pneumatic waste conveyance system.

This will be followed by Holland Plain in around year 2021, and Bayshore after 2024. This will take a little longer, as we will have to wait for the upcoming MRT stations to be ready. Nevertheless, we are not limited by just these three precincts. There are many more, and the ideas we harness from this exhibition and from our continuous dialogue with Singaporeans will help us to improve the design and features of future residential sites all over Singapore.

In conclusion, if we were to take a step back and look at residential sites in Singapore, we can all acknowledge that we have beautiful residential precincts here. This is thanks to our planners, architects, developers and contractors – you have all contributed to the kind of residential precincts and neighbourhoods we have in Singapore today. But we are not standing still or resting on our laurels. We are taking steps to improve our homes, imagine our future and make our homes even better.

We want homes with more connectivity, more greenery and more vibrant community spaces. All this cannot be done by the Government alone. It’s a collective effort involving all stakeholders. Let us continue to work together to improve our living environment and make Singapore an even more endearing home for all of us. Thank you very much.

 

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