With a slew of old-school restaurants and buzzy new hipster joints, some of which are open round the clock, Thomson Village near Upper Thomson Road is a magnet for diners in the evenings and on weekends.
But the area's popularity has created parking and traffic problems, with multiple instances of illegal parking occurring regularly, and residents in nearby estates complaining about restaurant patrons who park in front of their gates and block their cars.
To prevent the situation from deteriorating, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has banned additional eateries from opening in shophouses in sections along Jalan Todak, Soo Chow Walk, Sin Ming Road and Shunfu Road, as well as Upper Thomson Road.
The area is one of three new spots that the URA, working with the Land Transport Authority, placed on a list of spots with a ban on the opening of new eateries on May 30, "to address the traffic and indiscriminate parking concerns from the residents there due to the existing eating houses in the area".
The other areas are the Little India Historic District, which includes sections along Serangoon Road, Jalan Besar and Kitchener Road, and an area near Bedok Road, including shophouses along Jalan Pari Burong.
There are around 30 eateries in shophouses in Thomson Village, about 12 in the Bedok area, and close to 50 in the Little India Historic District.
Professional bodies representing architects, engineers and real estate agents have been asked to update their members in a circular released by URA. Under the rules, existing eateries can carry on if there are no complaints. But a new food business can move in only if it takes over the space from another unit that is approved for use as an eating house, the URA said.
The list was started in 2002 with eight areas. It focuses on shophouses with eateries that lack parking spaces.
Over the years, new neighbourhoods have been added, while some were taken off the list when the situation improved.
With the new additions, there are now 21 affected areas on the list, including sections of Balestier Road, Kampong Bahru Road, Greenwood Avenue and Serangoon Garden Way. Residents and restaurant owners in the areas welcomed the ban, saying it would alleviate the traffic situation, especially on weekends.
"There are more than a few hundred restaurants in Little India, which is a sufficient number, and there is no need for new eateries to come in. We have received a large number of complaints about the lack of parking spaces in the area," said Mr C. Sankaranathan, president of the Indian Restaurants Association Singapore.
Ms Agnes Fong, 58, who owns a furniture shop in a cluster of shophouses along Jalan Pari Burong, said the parking situation had left her with no choice but to close her business at 7pm, earlier than she would choose to, because customers are unable to find parking spaces at night. "If there are too many eateries here, parking will be an even bigger problem," she said.
However, Mr Shahid Javaid, 42, who owns Usman Restaurant in Serangoon Road, doubted that the new rule could ease congestion in the area. "People come to this area to shop at places like Mustafa Centre, not for food," he said.
A Thomson Ridge resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee, said the move was a first step, with more needed to be done to address the noise levels after midnight from the 24-hour joints in the area.
"They don't just park illegally and block your gate, but shout and disturb the residents late at night," said the retiree, who had given feedback to the authorities about the situation.
But while residents are happy, patrons are less so. Customer service associate Nicholas Tay, 24, who frequents the eateries in Thomson Village at least once a month, lamented that the move will decrease the number of dining options.
"It will make it less convenient for consumers," he said.
•Additional reporting by Aleysa John and Royanne Ng