New public housing projects and mini-dragons in Toa Payoh facelift

Toa Payoh makeover under HDB's Remaking Our Heartland programme to include quirky street furniture, new public housing projects. PHOTO: WONG CHEK POH

SINGAPORE - Singapore's oldest HDB estate will undergo a facelift which will see the building of a few thousand new flats and an injection of the whimsical.

There will be two new public housing areas in Toa Payoh, with a 10ha site in Caldecott and 4ha site in Toa Payoh East set aside for a few thousand flats. The exact number is yet to be finalised and more details will be out later. There are currently about 37,000 flats in the town.

Meanwhile, 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.

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The moves come under the Housing Board's Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is also Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP, launched an exhibition on the area's renewal plans at the HDB Hub on Saturday (Apr 22).

The makeover of Toa Payoh will be completed within the next five to 10 years.

In the existing town centre and neighbourhoods, more greenery, shelters and seating will be added to allow for more community interaction. There will also be two new parks.

Despite the new developments, the charm and heritage of the mature town will be preserved, said the HDB.

Toa Payoh was the first town built by the HDB, in 1964.

An arts and heritage corner in the town centre will feature storyboards about the history of the town planning for Toa Payoh, and how it went from swampland to a satellite 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 block (Block 53), which has hosted foreign dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II.

The estate will also be more senior-friendly. As a mature town, Toa Payoh has a higher proportion of elderly residents, with about three in 10 residents aged 60 and above.

Two locations, Lorong 5 and Lorong 8/8A, have been designated as Silver Zones, aimed at making roads safer for the elderly. It will have speed limits for vehicles and markings to remind pedestrians to check that roads are clear before crossing.

The HDB engaged about 100 residents and grassroots leaders in June 2015 in developing these plans.

Said Dr Ng: "Each year Singapore progresses, we plow back our resources into HDB towns so that HDB heartlanders can benefit, so that homes can increase in value.

"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 an even better town."

Toa Payoh was last madeover under the Estate Renewal Strategy in the 1990s. Although the estate has been upgraded several times since, through programmes such as the Selective En bloc Redevelopment scheme, a HDB spokesman said the rejuvenation efforts this time will be more comprehensive.

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