SINGAPORE - A picnic by the beach would be much easier in the next five to 10 years, when the makeover of Pasir Ris town is complete.
Instead of lugging a heavy picnic basket from home, park-goers from Pasir Ris and beyond can simply pick up food and drink at the many shops next to the MRT station, before taking a leisurely 10-minute stroll on an elevated "highway" to Pasir Ris Park, without having to stop and wait at traffic lights.
Too tired to walk? Cycling would be an option too, as the Central Greenway would feature bicycle paths on top of walkways. The ride would take five minutes.
The greenway would stretch 1.2km in total, running from Pasir Ris Park, through the town centre, and ending near the Tampines Expressway where the existing HDB project Costa Ris is. About 500m of it would be elevated above ground, with ramps connecting it to ground level.
This feature will make Pasir Ris Park, Singapore's only major coastal public park, even more readily accessible. Park-goers need only to hop on an MRT and take a short walk to get there.
The other coastal parks include East Coast Park, Changi Beach Park, Sembawang Park and West Coast Park.
The greenway was announced by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) on Saturday (Apr 29), as part of rejuvenation plans for Pasir Ris. The upgrading works will be the first major one for the town since flats there were built 30 years ago, and plans for it are now on display next to Pasir Ris MRT station for public feedback.
In explaining why the Central Greenway is a feature unique only to Pasir Ris, Dr Chong Fook Loong, HDB group director for research and planning, told The Straits Times that it is because Pasir Ris is the only estate in Singapore to have its town centre located within 500m of the regional park and coastal beach area.
For some households, it would soon also be possible to enjoy views of the park and the Sungei Api Api river leading to it. HDB plans to build 2,000 public housing units adjacent to the Pasir Ris Park. Details on when they will be completed are not yet available.
The new flats come on top of Pasir Ris' 29,500 existing public flats.
There will also be other treats in store for the current 110,600 residents of Pasir Ris, including the upgrading of four existing neighbourhood centres - Loyang Point, Elias Mall, Pasir Ris West Plaza and Neighbourhood 4 NC -as well as improved neighbourhood parks with more amenities such as new playgrounds, linkways and fitness corners.
Anew town centre is also on the cards.
Currently, there is one mall, White Sands, located next to the MRT station. There will now be a new mixed-use development in the area, which will comprise residential, retail and food and beverage outlets.
This development will also be integrated with an improved bus interchange - one that will come equipped with a dedicated pick-up and drop-off point for full-time National Servicement undergoing military training on Pulau Tekong.
The plans for Pasir Ris comes under HDB's Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme. Nine towns and estates have been identified for renewal. The blueprint for the rejuvenation of Punggol, Dawson, Yishun, East Coast, Hougang, Jurong Lake, Woodlands and Toa Payoh have already been released, with Pasir Ris rounding up the list. A budget for the Pasir Ris development has yet to be finalised.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, an MP for Pasir Ris- Punggol GRC, said during the event: "The Remaking our Heartlands in Pasir Ris will improve our living environment further, provide more facilities and connectivity, and more opportunities for you and your family to grow here in Pasir Ris."
The exhibition at Pasir Ris will run till May 14, and feedback can be given on HDB's website at www.hdb.gov.sg/ROH.