A space in Seletar to relax and connect

Above and below: Artist's impressions of people chilling out in the recreational spaces at Seletar Aerospace Park after redevelopment. Left: A total of 32 pre-war buildings in the aerospace park have been gazetted for conservation and redevelopment,
Artist's impressions of people chilling out in the recreational spaces at Seletar Aerospace Park after redevelopment. PHOTOS: JTC
Artist's impressions of people chilling out in the recreational spaces at Seletar Aerospace Park after redevelopment.
Artist's impressions of people chilling out in the recreational spaces at Seletar Aerospace Park after redevelopment. PHOTOS: JTC
A total of 32 pre-war buildings in the aerospace park have been gazetted for conservation and redevelopment, according to government agency JTC. They include four vacant black-and-white bungalows that will be converted into restaurants by June.
A total of 32 pre-war buildings in the aerospace park have been gazetted for conservation and redevelopment, according to government agency JTC. They include four vacant black-and-white bungalows that will be converted into restaurants by June. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Restaurants, recreational spaces and a boardwalk are being developed at Seletar Aerospace Park as part of efforts to make the area a place to "chill out".

A total of 32 pre-war buildings there have been gazetted for conservation and redevelopment, revealed Mr Alvin Tan, assistant chief executive for the aerospace cluster at JTC, the government agency developing the area.

They include four vacant black- and-white bungalows that will be converted into restaurants by June.

A 340m-long boardwalk fronting the runway at Seletar Airport, which is in the aerospace park, will also be ready around the same time, and visitors can watch planes take off and land.

Also in the pipeline are open and closed spaces for around 5,000 people working in the aerospace park to organise recreational activities, such as zumba and yoga, as well as movie screenings.

The first phase of redevelopment works at the former British military airbase, which started last year, covers a 24,000 sq m plot where there are six pre-war buildings, including the four that will become restaurants.

Plans for the other two are still being finalised but they could include a childcare centre.

Mr Tan said: "Beyond infrastructure and a place of work, we want to make Seletar Aerospace Park a vibrant social space for the aerospace community to chill out, connect and collaborate."

Ms Lim Hee Joo, executive director of Wah Son Engineering, which moved to Seletar last year, said: "It's very inspiring to see JTC going beyond building hardware and taking a lead in building communities.

"By developing a thriving ecosystem, it will encourage companies based here to know one another's capabilities well and to create collaboration opportunities."

Seletar residents who live in black-and-white homes outside the aerospace park zone also lauded the move. Ms Edith Kraaijeveld, a 47-year-old airline executive who has been living in Seletar for around 20 years, hopes it will bring back some of the area's old charm, which was lost when the bulldozers moved in to build factories.

"Singapore is a small country, so we have to come to terms with the need for development, which in this case has helped create jobs and stimulate the economy," said the mother of two boys, aged 11 and 12.

"Still, we need to preserve what we can. Some of us at Seletar are pushing very hard to build a heritage centre to showcase the area's history and significance so that it is always remembered."

For example, not many may know that the roads and roundabouts in the area, such as Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Gate and Baker Street, were named after places in London. This was to ease the homesickness of servicemen based in Seletar when it became a British military airbase in 1928.

Ms Kraaijeveld said: "We hope government and community agencies can come in to support our initiative to preserve Seletar's history."

Karamjit Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'A space in Seletar to relax and connect'. Print Edition | Subscribe