Punggol residents now have a town square

HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean and DPM Teo, who is also an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, at the opening of the 1,620 sq m Punggol Town Square. DPM Teo also opened the Punggol Discovery Cube yesterday.
HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean and DPM Teo, who is also an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, at the opening of the 1,620 sq m Punggol Town Square. DPM Teo also opened the Punggol Discovery Cube yesterday.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Pig, fish and poultry farms once filled the landscape but today, Punggol has become Singapore's first eco-town.

Yesterday, it claimed another first: the Punggol Discovery Cube - the first visitor centre in an HDB town where people can learn more about how the area has developed.

Its opening coincided with that of the new Punggol Town Square. Both were launched by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

With a standing capacity of 1,000 people, the 1,620 sq m square just beside Waterway Point shopping mall will give residents a space to take part in activities together, including mass exercises.

"Punggol has seen a huge transformation," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security. "This town square is part of our latest efforts to bring Punggol residents together."

Since the first public housing project there was built in 2000, the Housing Board has completed some 43,000 flats in Punggol, as of the end of last year. Train services and other facilities have also been added to meet residents' needs.

In the last decade, more than 26,000 HDB homes and 5,800 private housing units have been added to Punggol. The number of residents has also more than doubled since 2007, to 118,100 last March.

Residents said that facilities have made things more convenient. For instance, they are now able to buy groceries at the 24-hour supermarket at Waterway Point instead of having to rely on provision shops.

Civil servant Dennis Tay, 40, who moved to Punggol Sapphire about five years ago, said transport services have improved. When he first moved in, there was no public transport to the MRT station.

He hopes that the new square will add vibrancy to the town.

"There are a lot of young couples here and they usually just go home after work," said Mr Tay.

But there is still room for improvement, said technician Kamisan Kamit, 47, who moved in 13 years ago. He hopes to see more bus services to the city area.

"The traffic can get bad in the mornings along Tampines Expressway," he said.

Other developments, such as the Punggol Regional Sports Centre and the Oasis Terraces neighbourhood centre, which will house one of Singapore's largest polyclinics, will be ready in the next few years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Punggol residents now have a town square'. Print Edition | Subscribe