Singapore's oldest HDB town, Toa Payoh, will undergo a facelift which will see the building of a few thousand new flats.
There will be two new public housing areas: a 10ha site next to the Caldecott MRT station on the Circle Line and the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line in Toa Payoh Rise, and a 4ha site in Toa Payoh East, next to the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery.
The exact number of new flats is yet to be finalised. But analysts say that the two plots could fit roughly 5,000 units, depending on the flat sizes. There are currently about 37,000 flats in Toa Payoh.
The new flats, to be completed within the next five to 10 years, come under the Housing Board's Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme. Nine towns and estates have been identified for renewal - Punggol, Dawson, Yishun, East Coast, Hougang, Jurong Lake, Woodlands, Pasir Ris and Toa Payoh.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is also a Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP, launched an exhibition on the area's renewal plans at the HDB Hub Atrium yesterday.
Property analyst Ong Kah Seng expects the two new housing developments to be much sought-after, given their central location.
"So far, in terms of positioning, Toa Payoh has leveraged more on its central location rather than its vibrancy," said Mr Ong, director of R'ST Research. "The new flats can help energise the whole estate."
Build-To-Order flats in Toa Payoh - the nearest HDB estate to the Orchard Road shopping district by MRT - are very popular. In 2014, nine applicants vied for each of the four-room flats up for sale in the new Toa Payoh Apex estate.
The makeover will also inject a whimsical note into the estate. One of the town's icons - the 38-year-old dragon playground in Toa Payoh Lorong 6 - may be replicated in the form of quirky street furniture such as benches in a new park, alongside other symbols.
In the town centre and neighbourhoods, more greenery, shelters and seating will be added to give residents more space to interact. There will also be two new parks.
The new developments will not be made at the expense of the charm and heritage of the mature town, said the HDB.
Toa Payoh was the first satellite town built by the HDB, in 1964. An arts and heritage corner in the town centre will feature storyboards about how Toa Payoh grew from swampland to a town. A model of the town centre in the 1970s will also be on display.
Two new heritage markers will be installed at the dragon playground and the unique Y-shaped Block 53, which has hosted foreign dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II.
The estate will also be made more senior-friendly. As a mature town, Toa Payoh has a higher proportion of elderly residents, with three in 10 residents aged 60 and above. Ramps and handrails will be installed and paving will be levelled.
Lorong 5 and Lorong 8/8A have been designated Silver Zones, aimed at making roads safer for the elderly. The zones will have markings to remind pedestrians to check the roads before crossing.
Mrs Chia-Nge Tak Heng, 57, who has lived in Toa Payoh for 42 years, said such features would make it safer for her 79-year-old mother, who uses a wheelchair, to get around.
The HDB engaged about 100 residents and grassroots leaders in June 2015 in developing these plans.
Dr Ng said yesterday: "Over 50 years of continuous improvement, Toa Payoh has been transformed into a modern, vibrant town with much sought-after flats. The ROH programme will make Toa Payoh... even better."
Toa Payoh was last made over under the Estate Renewal Strategy in the 1990s. Although it has been upgraded several times since, an HDB spokesman said the efforts this time will be more comprehensive.