Punggol to have 7 new waterfront districts

Abundant flora will soften density; waterfront market for town centre

THE Housing Board has unveiled the next phase of development for Singapore's hottest new estate, Punggol, which is also known for being the first eco-town.

Estimated to be twice the size of Ang Mo Kio when it is complete, the eco-precinct is expected to boast seven new districts for waterfront housing, as well as abundant greenery to soften its projected high density.

Last night at the HDB Awards gala at Marina Bay Sands, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan painted the next phase of Punggol as part of the Government's plan to progressively raise the standard of HDB living while catering to a growing population.

"(New HDB towns) enable us to try out new planning concepts and ideas. Proven ideas can then be replicated in other new towns, as well as in old towns when we redevelop them," he said.

There are 26,400 completed HDB flats in the area, and about 6,400 private homes which are in the works.

The total number of HDB flats and private homes is projected to be 96,000 when development ends, which could happen in the next 15 years or so, depending on demand and economic conditions.

These will be spread out over seven new waterfront housing districts aside from Punggol Central, where most of the current developments are.

The first two to be developed within the next five years will be the Northshore and Matilda districts. The former will boast the tallest residential buildings in the area - at 29 storeys, and overlooking the Strait of Johor - while the latter will draw inspiration from the rich history of the area such as the iconic Matilda House.

Other districts which will come on stream later include Crescent, Punggol Point and Canal. Work at Waterway East and Waterway West has already begun.

The town centre will be expanded into a new "Punggol Downtown", which will have a waterfront market village, a learning corridor which will house educational institutions, and a creative cluster for commercial use relating to lifestyle needs.

Flora will also play a bigger role in the nation's first eco-town. The existing waterway will be enhanced with green spaces extending northwards. Coupled with the town centre, a new sports complex and the learning corridor, this area will form the "green heart" of the town.

"Green fingers" - or paths lined with greenery - will extend from the "green heart" to reach the coastal promenade and Coney Island, where a park is expected to be completed by 2014.

The 1.5km Old Punggol Road will be one such "finger". It will be closed to traffic and converted to a heritage trail for pedestrians.

Cycling tracks will also be built in tandem with new roads to encourage a clean commute, while the Western LRT loop is expected to start operations in tandem with development in the area.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), with other agencies, is studying the feasibility of a road link between KPE/TPE and Punggol Central and expects to complete the study by mid-2013. The construction timeline will be determined after the technical feasibility study is completed.

Analysts The Straits Times spoke to said Punggol's development also echoes HDB's move towards concept living.

"HDB first started by just providing housing. They then moved to starting up self-sufficient satellite towns like Tampines and Woodlands. Now, they are going into addressing lifestyle needs," said Mr Chris Koh from property consultancy Chris International.

An exhibition on the proposed plans has been put up for public consultation at HDB Hub, starting today and continuing until Oct 28.

darylc@sph.com.sg

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