Singapore

Upgrading estates to meet residents' needs

Estate upgrading projects must cater to the residents' needs, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu yesterday.

She cited the neighbourhood renewal programme in the Woodlands ward of Sembawang GRC as a project that has done so.

Ms Fu, who visited the ward yesterday, pointed to barrier-free access ramps being built in anticipation of an ageing population and new facilities such as a basketball court.

She said those facilities meet the needs of the estate's residents, who are relatively young, with a higher proportion of children and teenagers.

"Ultimately, that is the most important thing, how to make the living environment one that is relevant to the residents," she told reporters during the ministerial community visit.

The three neighbourhood renewal programmes in the ward cover about 60 housing blocks and will benefit about 4,700 households.

About $16.2 million has been set aside for the projects.

Two projects will be completed in September and the third in March 2019.

During her visit, Ms Fu attended two block parties and spoke to stallholders at the wet markets. She and Mr Amrin Amin, the MP for the area, joined some residents for zumba at one block party.

Ms Fu said such activities are a way to turn neighbourhood facilities into a "liveable and communal space" where people can bond through sports or exercise and get to know their neighbours better.

She said her ministry can help in terms of programming.

"We want to see how to make the hardware work better for the people... we can make it more relevant to people here," she said.

Mr Amrin said his grassroots team is "working very hard to improve the software" to bring residents together.

For instance, they have an open house to celebrate festive occasions.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health also said the residents have given him feedback on various issues, from facilities to jobs and local problems such as noise.

Activities such as block parties, which bring people together, can help resolve conflicts, he noted.

Woodlands resident Ma Lazein Tun welcomed the new facilities at Fu Shan Garden, such as the basketball court.

The 42-year-old said: "My daughter plays there more often than my son. She is the sportier one."

Woodlandscommunity