Part of forest to be cleared for new neighbourhood in Teacher's Estate area

URA says the land preparation works are set to begin in the third quarter of this year and are expected to take about five years to complete.
Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia 7 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: A large part of a 30-hectare secondary forest is set to be cleared to make way for a new neighbourhood in the Teacher's Estate area, off Yio Chu Kang Road.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the land preparation works are set to begin in the third quarter of this year. The area, bound by Tagore Road, Upper Thomson Road, Munshi Abdullah Avenue and Yio Chu Kang Road will comprise a variety of private homes to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years.

It is also near the upcoming Lentor MRT station, which is set to be ready by 2020, on the new Thomson-East Coast Line. URA said it will progressively launch sites for the new homes as the land preparations works complete, so that more residents in the area can benefit from living close to the new Lentor station.

URA said the new neighbourhood - which was announced in the Master Plan 2014 - is part of plans to “rejuvenate Ang Mo Kio Town by providing Singaporeans with more housing options and convenient access to amenities”.

The authority added that when it drew up the plans for the area, it “deliberately included more parks and greenery to provide a good living environment, while catering to residents’ recreational needs”.

URA said it has been engaging the local community on its plans since 2013, and nature groups since last year. It added that it shared the upcoming plans - through platforms such as dialogue sessions - to gather the community’s feedback and address their concerns.

URA noted that from 2014 to 2015, it worked with the National Parks Board (NParks) “to salvage and relocate plant species that are of varying conservation status”. It said that before construction work can begin, a management plan will be put in place to ensure wildlife are safely guided towards the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the west or the forested area in the north.

The Nature Society said several nationally and globally threatened animals have been spotted at the site, including the young banded leaf monkey, sunda pangolin and the sunda slow loris.

There are also two streams running through the area, along with about 100 specimens of the rare Elephant Foot's Fern, classified by NParks as vulnerable.

Last week, the Nature Society released a position paper calling for phased development of the site, while preserving parts of the forest and one of the streams.

URA said it has shared its plans to keep two vegetated areas near Munshi Abdullah Walk for at least five years, as they are not affected by immediate works. Some existing vegetation is also being kept for a future neighbourhood park while a new linear park will also be added.

URA said the land preparation works are expected to take about five years, to facilitate the building of drains, sewers and roads for the new neighbourhood.

- CNA/ms


Two plots to be kept in forest marked for clearing
But 2 rare streams in Lentor site will be affected by housing project
Audrey Tan Straits Times 7 Jun 16; and AsiaOne

The authorities have agreed to keep two green plots in a 30ha secondary forest in Lentor which will be cleared later this year to make way for private homes.

The areas adjacent to Munshi Abdullah Walk will be temporarily kept for at least five years. The decision was made following discussions with residents and the Nature Society (Singapore) or NSS, which had hoped that the lifespan of the green lung could be extended.

But the rest of the forest, through which two rare freshwater streams run through, will be cleared. Works to facilitate the introduction of supporting infrastructure such as drains, sewers and roads will start in the third quarter of this year and is expected to take five years.

But a wildlife management plan will be implemented before the works begin to ensure animals in the area can be safely guided to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the west, or the forested area in the north, The Straits Times has learnt.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has also worked with the National Parks Board to salvage and relocate plant species of varying conservation statuses, a URA spokesman told ST.

Plans to develop the area were first laid out in URA's Master Plan 2014. In December last year, residents of Teacher's Estate received URA fliers informing them that works to clear the forest bordering the estate would start before Chinese New Year. This alarmed residents, many of whom enjoy living near the greenery, they said. After talks between URA and the residents, the works have been delayed to the third quarter.

Apart from keeping the two green areas, URA said other suggestions from the community, such as plans for a park, canal and natural landscape features such as plants, will also be incorporated to soften the surroundings.

NSS also submitted a 10-page position paper to URA, pointing out the rich biodiversity in the area. Rare animals like the critically endangered Sunda pangolin and banded leaf monkey have been spotted there.

The society proposed that the area be developed in four stages instead of being cleared at one go, to extend the lifespan of the forest.

But URA, which said it has studied the proposal in detail, said it was not feasible "due to the need to holistically introduce the supporting infrastructure required for the new neighbourhood".

Dr Ho Hua Chew, NSS' conservation committee vice-chairman, said it is disappointed with the decision. "The two lovely forest streams, Tagore and Lentor - rare outside the nature reserve - will be canalised or wiped out, along with the green corridor for wildlife movement from the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to the Tagore forest."

Chemical consultant and Munshi Abdullah Walk resident Kwan K.M, 64, said: "We understand that the Government has a plan, but maybe some plans can be re-looked, especially with developments such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, which focused on the role of forests."

WATCH IT ONLINE

Enter the forest to learn more about the Lentor stream http://str.sg/ 43X2

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