SINGAPORE - While the Housing Board has announced that it will put off development for the western half of the 33ha Dover Forest for now following a review of its plans, 11ha of the eastern half will be used for public housing, as well as commercial and recreational amenities.
Developing the land will help meet strong demand for housing in mature estates, including from young families who want to live near their parents in the area, said HDB on Friday (July 30). The first of the housing projects in the eastern sector of Dover Forest will be launched in the second half of next year.
HDB added that the last Build-To-Order (BTO) development in the area was launched in November 2012. Since then, it has received feedback from residents that their children wish to live in the area.
"This is aligned to HDB's data showing that more married couples and elderly are preferring to stay near to their families for better mutual care and support," it said.
In a statement last Sunday, HDB said the application rate for new units in mature towns and estates increased to 6.7 times in 2020 from 2.8 times in 2017, while the rate for units in non-mature estates and towns was 4.8 times in 2020, up from 2.1 times in 2017. The figures indicate a continued preference among flat buyers for flats in mature estates.
HDB also said that mature estates like Queenstown - of which Ulu Pandan is a part - have also seen higher than average demand for unsold flats released in sales exercises over the past four years.
The application rate for the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises in Queenstown was 6.4 times during that period, compared with the average of 5.4 across all mature estates. Clementi - which is right next to the Dover Forest site - also had an exceptionally high SBF application rate at 8.3 times.
The high demand may also be due to the fewer BTO projects launched in these areas recently, said HDB.
The coming launch at the Dover Forest site is good news for house-hunters. An administration executive, who wanted to be known only as Ms Goh, said she and her fiance have been looking since 2019 for a unit near Ghim Moh, where she grew up and her parents still live.
"I'm familiar with the area and this is the community I grew up in. When my parents grow older it will also be easier to care for them, and if we have kids they can help with childcare, so living nearby will be very convenient," said Ms Goh, who is in her early 30s.
She said she had not been successful in getting an unsold or new flat during sales exercises, while resale units in older blocks in Ghim Moh Road were less attractive because of the shorter time remaining on their leases.
In announcing its plans, HDB said it took into account feedback submitted on an environmental baseline study it had conducted on the site.
Among the 1,800 responses were calls for the site to be fully retained as a green space, while others suggested conserving ecologically significant portions of the site alongside housing developments.
HDB also addressed alternative development sites put forward by nature groups, members of the public and Holland-Bukit Timah MP Christopher de Souza.
Mr de Souza, who oversees the Ulu Pandan ward, told The Straits Times HDB has informed him the new developments in Ulu Pandan east would weave in greenery and enhance blue spaces to improve liveability and ecological connectivity.
Of the five alternative sites that were suggested, two are in interim use by the Ministry of Education, while another two are earmarked to be part of the future Dover Knowledge District.
The last site, next to Ulu Pandan Community Club in Ghim Moh, will be part of a BTO exercise to be launched next year. Details of the number of types of flats available at this site and in the Dover Forest sector will be made available at a later date.
The announcements for these two projects appear to have come ahead of the normal schedule for BTO announcements.
Usually new projects are announced by HDB six months before their launch. Details of exact locations and the number of flats and their types are made three months before the launch.
"Nonetheless, there has been public interest on why vacant brownfield sites in the vicinity of the vegetated site at Ulu Pandan was not considered for BTO housing," it noted. These sites included the vacant Ghim Moh site next to the community club.
"Given the public interest, we have therefore decided to make known the housing plans for this site," said HDB.
"This is to assure the public that in meeting the housing demand, depending on the timing and quantity of projected housing supply required in a particular year, we do look first at available brownfield sites within the vicinity for development."