Singapore to have 1,000ha more parks and park connectors

In 15 years' time, nine in 10 Singaporeans will be just a 10-minute walk away from a park.

This enhanced City in a Garden vision was unveiled yesterday in the Draft Master Plan, which shows 1,000ha more parks and park connectors across the island. The expansion is an almost 13 per cent increase over the existing 7,800ha.

This is part of a "conscious and deliberate effort" to protect natural spaces and increase ecological resilience, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong at the launch of the Draft Master Plan.

"From time to time, we hear concerns that Singapore is developing too rapidly, that we are losing greenery and heritage spaces," he said.

"We have to change and reinvent our city. But Singapore is also our home, and we want it to be a home that's beautiful and green, with familiar spaces that we can connect and identify with."

Recently, nature groups have clashed with the authorities over several developments, the latest of which was over the Housing Board's findings of an environmental study on the clearance of secondary forests for public housing in Tengah.

Last month, the authorities said they intend to make public such findings unless there are specific reasons, like security considerations, to keep them confidential.

Mr Wong yesterday elaborated on the nature of the planned green spaces, saying the goal is to have more than 400km of park connectors in the next 15 years, up from about 300km now.

There will also be major green recreational corridors, including the 36km Coast to Coast trail linking Jurong Lake Gardens in the west to Coney Island Park in the north-east. The trail will be officially launched on Saturday.

Another major green stretch is the 24km Rail Corridor running from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar. About one million people will live within 1km of it.

Work to enhance a central 4km stretch between Hillview Avenue and Bukit Timah Railway Station is ongoing. The authorities hope that when the entire corridor is fully linked by 2021, it will rejuvenate nearby neighbourhoods.

Some areas in the vicinity of the railway will be conserved for their heritage, such as Bukit Timah Railway Station and the Station Master's Quarters. Both buildings will be refurbished with suitable amenities.

Nearby, the former Bukit Timah Fire Station and Beauty World will be transformed into gateways for the surrounding nature and heritage attractions. The fire station building will have a visitor centre and become a central point for the network of attractions in the area.

At Beauty World, there will be street-level activities and landscaping to improve the walking experience from the shopping mall to the Rail Corridor. An upcoming Bukit Timah Community Centre, with a market and hawker centre, will add to the buzz.

Another major recreational corridor is the Round Island Route, a 150km ring-like park connector that will be progressively completed by 2035.

Part of the route comprises the Greater Rustic Coast, a 50km belt of parks, beaches and nature attractions that stretches from Lim Chu Kang to Changi.

Some of the impending projects there include Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat, which will be enhanced as a nature park in mid-2022, and the development of a new park in Hampstead Gardens.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority is also exploring recreational options in Kranji, such as whether Singapore Racecourse can be turned into a family-friendly and communal spot.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2019, with the headline Singapore to have 1,000ha more parks and park connectors. Subscribe