Singapore

Tengah to grow its distinctive identity through gardens

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All 24 HDB estates to have unique design identities: Lawrence Wong

The first housing district in the upcoming "forest town" of Tengah will be the home of community gardening, and get a farmway to bolster that claim.

On a broader scale, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who unveiled the plans for Tengah, also launched the first of 24 design guidelines that will shape the unique identity of every HDB town for decades to come.

Yesterday's guide was for Woodlands, while the rest will be rolled out over five years.

Mr Wong also showed a video about how Plantation, the first of five housing districts in Tengah, could shape up.

Occupying 90ha, it sits in the southernmost part of Tengah and will contain 10,000 flats when completed. The first tranche of 1,500 flats will be launched in November.

The highlight of the district is a 700m-long, 40m-wide farmway - the first for a HDB town - which weaves through the housing precincts.

Paying homage to the villages, fruit tree plantations and farms in Tengah in the 1950s, the bulk of the farmway - about 2,000 sq m - has been set aside for community gardens.

This is in addition to the community gardens within individual public housing projects.

If popular, it could be replicated elsewhere, said HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean.

Identities for all 24 HDB towns will be carved out through design guides.

Each guide will chronicle a town's history, vision and distinct character, so as to help future HDB consultants, government agencies and town councils unify the town's future developments.

It will also offer design principles on three scales: town, neighbourhood and precinct.

Between them, they will spell out everything from the town's overall vision to the colour palette of the buildings to the type of playgrounds it should have.

"The guide will set out the planning urban design and architectural intent of each town, including its distinctive character and heritage," said Mr Wong.

The distinctions between towns were spelt out yesterday.

For example, Punggol would have waterfront living; Woodlands, which got its name from keranji trees, would keep to the wooded theme; and Tengah would be the town of forests and gardens.

Tengah will also be a car-lite town, and Plantation will be served by two MRT stations along the upcoming Jurong Regional Line.

Bus stops will be within 300m of most homes, while all roads will have dedicated cycling paths. Self-driving cars will be piloted later.

Tengah will take around 20 years to develop, and will house about 42,000 residential flats when completed.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

‘Factually, legally wrong’ to say flat buyers are not owners: Minister

It is "factually and legally wrong" to claim that Housing Board flat buyers do not own their flats and are just renting them, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

That is because all buyers of leasehold properties - whether public or private - enjoy ownership rights over their properties during the period of the lease.

"They can also sell their properties and benefit from any upside or rent it out if they choose to," he said at the Peak Forum for property professionals at HDB Hub yesterday.

Mr Wong reiterated the Government's view that the concept of leasehold property is neither unique to Singapore nor public housing.

"We have limited space and we need to recycle land to create housing for future generations," he said.

Otherwise, Singapore runs the risk of becoming like some other cities where there is a land shortage and housing becomes "very expensive and unaffordable".

Mr Wong said the Government welcomes all feedback and views on public housing.

"But the debate must always be based on facts, not misinformation and half-truths."

He did not name any commentators, but The Straits Times published a commentary on Aug 14 by International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong, who recommended " we be honest with ourselves and recognise that we are merely lessees who rent the HDB flats for their terms".- RACHEL AU-YONG

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