SINGAPORE - The country's only natural hot spring on the mainland, the Sembawang Hot Spring, will soon be developed into a park 10 times its current size and feature a cafe, toilets and a floral walk.
Construction work will start in early 2018 and be completed by 2019, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Saturday (Nov 25).
NParks said it will look into ways to ensure that people can still access the spring water during the construction period.
When completed, a floral walkway comprising flowers one would normally find in a kampung like the golden trumpet and oleander will greet visitors at the entrance to Sembawang Hot Spring Park, as it will be known.
There will also be toilets and a cafe, which will have shrubs and climbers on its walls to integrate it with the surrounding greenery.
Fruit trees like chiku and rambutan will also be planted in the vicinity.
In place of the current central pipes and taps, where the spring water runs from, there will be a cascading pool flowing down.
The cascading effect will help the water to cool down, and people will be able to dip their legs in the pool.
The pool will also come with a temperature meter.
Those who still want to collect the spring water in pails will be able to do so at a water collection point.
Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Sembawang GRC MP, Mr Ong Ye Kung, who was at the unveiling of the plans, said: "We are a concrete jungle...to find a jewel like this in the middle of Singapore is really rare so we are determined to keep this in the kampung spirit and the kampung rustic feel."
Other features include a naturalised stream that will channel the used water from the pool into a drainage system.
Sheltered seating areas, bicycle racks and a storage area for pails will also be added.
The NParks is soliciting public feedback on the plans till Dec 10, and will make alterations if need be.
The hot spring currently sits on Sembawang Air Base grounds, near the junction of Sembawang Road and Gambas Avenue, along Jalan Ulu Sembawang.
A deserted brick house believed to be part of a former bottled drink factory marks the site, which is open to the public from 7am to 7pm.
The spring was discovered in 1909 by Chinese merchant Seah Eng Keong, and people claim that its water can cure rheumatism, and heal skin problems such as acne or psoriasis.
News that the site was to be developed into a park was met with mixed reviews in April, with some wanting to keep its rustic character while others open to having facilities such as washrooms and basins.
On Saturday, visitors to the spring were generally positive about the redevelopment plans.
"There is nothing wrong with making it look prettier. In fact, it would be great if more people get to know about it because of that and come to benefit from it," said retiree Lim Chu Sun, 69, who used to work in a hotel.
She suggested having a space for people to completely submerge themselves in the water.
Madam Chris Goh, 56, a patient service associate, is open to the development plans as well but added that she is happy with how it is currently.
"They don't need to make it that nice, I'm already very satisfied with it," she said.
A daily visitor to the spring, she is looking forward to the toilets as she currently uses a towel to shield herself when she bathes with the spring water.
"My only request is that they don't cover the drains. I often lie on the railings as I feel that the steam rising from the water helps to improve my blood circulation."
Members of the public can view the plans and give their feedback on www.nparks.gov.sg/sembawanghotspringpark.