Tenants, staff back land acquisition to extend Woodlands Checkpoint

The Woodlands Checkpoint will be extended to take in the Old Woodlands Town Centre. Two private land plots will also be acquired to build the extension. Affected shopkeepers, shoppers and residents say they will miss the place.
Woodlands Point sits on one of two lots of land acquired by the State for the checkpoint extension. Yesterday, the majority of units were found to be vacant (below).
Woodlands Point sits on one of two lots of land acquired by the State for the checkpoint extension. Yesterday, the majority of units were found to be vacant.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Woodlands Point sits on one of two lots of land acquired by the State for the checkpoint extension. Yesterday, the majority of units were found to be vacant (below).
Woodlands Point sits on one of two lots of land acquired by the State for the checkpoint extension. Yesterday, the majority of units were found to be vacant (above).ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Business has been slowing in that part of Old Woodlands Town Centre

Almost every day for the past 10 years, Madam Chong Yoke Chan, 62, has taken a bus from her nearby home to work at pool hall Leisure Cue in Woodlands Point.

But even so, she supports the Government's move to acquire the building, as well as an adjacent lot of land, to build an extension to the Woodlands Checkpoint.

"I have been here for so long. But I can understand why they need more space for the checkpoint since there are so many people passing through it now," said Madam Chong.

Like her, many tenants and employees of shops at 268 and 270 Woodlands Centre Road - the two lots of private land acquired yesterday - said they welcome the new developments in the area.

Many added that business has been slowing in recent years, with low footfall to that part of the Old Woodlands Town Centre.

 
  • Developments in the works for Woodlands

  • WOODLANDS REGIONAL CENTRE

    Some 7 million sq ft of commercial space is planned for the Woodlands Regional Centre. This comprises two parcels of land:

    • Retail hub Woodlands Central, a 30ha area around Woodlands MRT and Causeway Point.

    • Woodlands North Coast, a 70ha area between Republic Polytechnic and Woodlands Waterfront. The area will house a business park as well as have land set aside for small and medium-sized enterprises.

    WOODLANDS GENERAL HOSPITAL

    Set to open in phases from 2022, this healthcare complex will include an acute care hospital, community hospital and nursing home. With some 1,800 beds, it is expected to be the largest general hospital here.

    NORTH-SOUTH EXPRESSWAY

    This 21.5km road linking Woodlands to the city will likely be completed by 2021. It will be the first highway here to have a dedicated bus lane.

    A cycling path and a wide pedestrian walkway will also be built along the entire route of the expressway, which will pass through towns such as Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.

    THOMSON-EAST COAST MRT LINE

    The new Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), slated to open in stages from 2019, stretches from Woodlands to Bedok. Six stations along the route, including Woodlands and Orchard stations, will intersect with other MRT lines and serve as interchanges.

    LINK WITH JOHOR BARU

    A cross-border MRT system, linked by a high bridge between Johor and Woodlands, is also in the pipeline.

    The Rapid Transit System link will connect Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus station to the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, where it will join the TEL.

  • Seow Bei Yi

The owner of Bait House in Woodlands Point, who wanted to be known only as Mr Koh, said two Singapore Land Authority officers were at his shop yesterday morning to give him the notice of acquisition.

"It is about time that they developed this place. Business has been slow for me all along, with just a few regular customers," said Mr Koh, who has been selling fish bait there for about two years and plans to move his business to the east.

"Not many people want to travel to my shop here, because of the bad jams at the checkpoint."

Agreeing, security guard Sabaruddin Salleh, 62, who has worked at Woodlands Point for about eight years, said the plans for the area are "good for the future", as he has seen traffic to and from the checkpoint growing over the past few years.

He said the building used to be vibrant, with a travel agency, enrichment centre and Internet cafe at one point, but many tenants have come and gone in the past few years.

Only about seven shops - including a McDonald's outlet, an arcade and a shop selling tupperware - were open yesterday at the four-storey Woodlands Point. The majority of units were vacant.

According to notices of acquisition, the lessee of Woodlands Point is C.J. Management & Development. Queries to the company were directed to real estate firm Jack Investment, which is owned by property veteran Han Chee Juan. He reportedly developed landed housing projects like The Teneriffe in Bukit Timah, and condominiums like Gilstead Mansions.

But some lamented that the acquisition might lead to the area's old-school charm ebbing away.

Mr Abas Kasmani, 64, recalled how he would visit shops in the bustling old town centre with his grandmother in the 1970s and 1980s.

"It is very old school and you don't have many places like that in Singapore any more," said Mr Abas, who frequents the area thrice a week with his friends after work.

Mr Chong Chee Seyong, 70, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who has lived in Woodlands for more than 30 years, said: "I will support the businesses here until they really have to go."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Tenants, staff back land acquisition to extend checkpoint'. Print Edition | Subscribe