Heritage district among ideas for Paya Lebar Air Base site

(From left) URA director of planning policies Yam Yujian, National Development Minister Desmond Lee and URA chief executive Lim Eng Hwee on April 16, 2022. PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

SINGAPORE - Creating a heritage district out of a cluster of old airport buildings in Paya Lebar Air Base, such as the control tower and hangars, was among suggestions by members of the Singapore Institute of Planners and the Singapore Institute of Architects.

The two organisations have been working with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to develop conceptual ideas and proposals for the Paya Lebar Air Base area.

The airbase will be relocated in the 2030s. Changi Air Base East and Tengah Air Base will be expanded to house Paya Lebar Air Base’s assets.

The Paya Lebar site and its surrounding industrial areas - five times the size of Toa Payoh - will be developed progressively into a new town comprising housing and recreational facilities, as well as spaces for businesses to offer employment opportunities.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee noted the suggestions in a virtual dialogue on Saturday (April 16) on the URA's long-term plan review. The session was attended by 250 members of the public.

Mr Lee said that among the suggestions was making the Paya Lebar Air Base area a Happiness Project - with urban designs that promote community bonding, and well-integrated blue and green spaces that can improve residents’ well-being.

Blue spaces refer to water bodies such as streams and lakes, while green spaces refer to public parks and pockets of greenery.

URA's long-term plan review is conducted once every 10 years, and aims to gather views to guide land use plans over the next 50 years and beyond.

The year-long review, which has four phases, is expected to be completed this year.

The authority is now in its third phase, after two phases of engaging Singaporeans to come up with aspirations and possible strategies for land use.

Mr Lee said he hoped to build a town that is liveable and sustainable, with easy access to jobs, green and blue spaces, and recreational facilities.

"At the same time, we want to recognise the area's heritage as Singapore's former second international airport," he added.

Kallang Airport was the country's first international airport. It opened in 1937 and closed in 1955.

Paya Lebar Airport - then known as Singapore International Airport - replaced Kallang Airport in 1955. The Republic of Singapore Air Force took over the area after the airport ceased operations as a civilian airport in 1981.

URA's chief planner Hwang Yu-Ning told The Straits Times in February that the site will be developed progressively, instead of all at once, to allow for future flexibility.

She said the development timeline will be similar to that of Jurong Lake District, which is being transformed in a massive project to create an economic hub in the west. It will continue to be developed over the next two to three decades, with the Government prioritising the sale of sites within the district.

Said Mr Lee on Saturday: "I look forward to the findings being shared with the public later this year, so that we can continue to shape this exciting town of the future, together."

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