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Woodlands to become waterfront metropolis
70ha of waterfront for business, lifestyle and residential uses; 30ha for retail hub
By: Jessica Lim
RESIDENTS in northern Singapore may soon get their own mini-metropolis when Woodlands is transformed into a waterfront destination that is also rich in jobs.
These preliminary plans were unveiled yesterday by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan for the regional centre that will serve as a major commercial node in the north.
The centre, stretching from the north coast fronting the Strait of Johor to the centre of Woodlands, offers 100ha for development.
It will have two distinct precincts. The 70ha Woodlands North Coast, an area between Republic Polytechnic and Woodlands Waterfront, is slated to be turned into a lush waterfront environment with a mix of business, residential and lifestyle uses.
The other precinct - Woodlands Central - a 30ha area around Woodlands MRT station and Causeway Point mall, is envisaged as a pedestrian-friendly retail hub. Low-rise commercial developments will have activity-generating uses on the first storey to create a vibrant street experience.
Detailed plans will be unveiled later in the year as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Draft Master Plan.
It typically takes 15 to 20 years for a centre to mature as time is needed to introduce detailed land-use plans, sell sites and build infrastructure. Success also depends on factors such as the economic climate and demand.
"We already have Causeway Point, but we need to build up much more. So there will be more shopping malls, more HDB (flats), BTO (flats), more private condos, executive condominiums and, of course, commercial activities and therefore jobs," said Mr Khaw. He was speaking to about 700 people who had turned up for a community event in Woodlands yesterday.
He added that jobs created will mean that "they don't have to travel very far to go to their workplaces".
Woodlands town now has about 230,000 residents.
Regional centres, an idea announced in 1991, aim to decentralise Singapore to guard against congestion and over-development in the Central Business District (CBD) and the Marina Bay areas.
Analysts said the new centre is likely to attract firms that complement labour-intensive industries across the Causeway.
"These could be companies that do research and development, or product design. That could be done here, but they may have their labour-intensive production and distribution arms in Iskandar," said Mr Danny Yeo, group managing director of property consultancy Knight Frank. Iskandar in Johor has been earmarked for projects such as retail, industry and education.
"It's the best of both worlds," he added, pointing to the new transport connections that could ease the flow of workers between both countries.
Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament Hawazi Daipi has high hopes that the plans will inject more life into Woodlands, which currently has only one mall.
He also suggested that the URA turn a temporary coastal promenade in Woodlands into a permanent feature, and that public courtyards be built.
Woodlands resident Vivekanand Ayyasami, 38, hopes the area will become a regional attraction. The IT professional and father of one, who lives in a three-room flat, spends 40 minutes getting to his CBD office by train. "If I could have a good job near my home, I would definitely consider it."
The URA has launched a website (www.ura.gov.sg/woodlands) where the public can find out more and give feedback on preliminary plans.