SINGAPORE - The public consultation period on the fate of the site known as Dover Forest will be extended by four weeks till March 1, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Monday (Feb 1).
He gave this update in response to questions filed by MPs, following recent public concern over the forest patch in the central Ulu Pandan area being zoned for residential use.
The Housing Board had sought feedback from Dec 20 to Jan 16 on an environmental baseline survey on the Ulu Pandan estate, to guide development plans and identify the native flora and fauna and their habitats.
Members of the public can give their views via the HDB website.
Mr Lee on Monday stressed that the authorities will carefully consider all feedback and share its plans when ready, as he noted the very wide range of views received thus far.
"Some have called to retain the site fully for greenery and recreation, and to designate it as a nature park," he said.
An online petition along these lines, started by a resident, received more than 38,900 signatures as at 2pm on Monday.
"Others say keep it green, but let's intervene through restoration," Mr Lee added. "Some have gone further to say that we should not build any more flats, and to halt all development.
"Others have urged the Government to redevelop other sites instead including vacant sites, acquiring older private or public housing or taking existing school fields, running tracks, car parks in the vicinity.
"Several have suggested that new housing and nature should coexist on the site. For example, develop parts that are less vegetated or with more non-native species," he said.
On the nearby Clementi Forest - another site that has drawn concerns from the public - Mr Lee reiterated that the site would continue to be earmarked for residential use, though there was no immediate need to develop it for housing.
"This will give our future generations the options of deciding whether to use it for housing as intended… or to review its land use if the need arises," he said.
He later told the House, in response to Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC), that commissioned environmental assessments and studies also consider the implications on surrounding networks.
"We're beginning to ask ourselves, should we just be looking at individual sites? Or should we be looking at the overall ecological map of Singapore? That map is very different from your urban map," said Mr Lee.
"We do study the impact on connectivity between different areas... and we make adjustments along the way, to provide for that," he added.
"We also study other issues that also affect the residents, like traffic impact (and) noise. We look at... a whole range of issues that also impact the urban environment as much as we look at environmental impact."