More help needed for shops in quieter neighbourhoods

In Housing Board estates, the importance of neighbourhood centres as a place to shop and have meals at, as well as to promote social interaction among neighbours cannot be underestimated ("Heartening presence in heartland"; Sept 4).

However, there must be a large enough catchment area to lure more residents to the neighbourhood centre to make it more vibrant.

At Bishan N1, a neighbourhood centre near my home, the upgrading of common areas has already been done, but business is still poor. Even with the proposed promotional events, I doubt things will get better.

First, it is located at the tail end of Bishan Street 11 before exiting Braddell Road, making it less accessible to most residents in Bishan East.

Second, the Bishan MRT station, the bus interchange, Junction 8 and supermarkets are located at the other end of the estate, drawing most residents in that direction.

HDB neighbourhood centres such as Bishan N1 need more than upgrading and promotional events to liven them up.

Bolder strategies need to be taken, such as offering free or reduced parking charges and replacing the wet market with supermarkets.

And where the land availability permits, the building of more homes to increase the ratio of dwelling units to shops could be a longer-term solution.

Gan Kok Tiong