Tengah town to be built using smart, sustainable tech

ILIYAS JUANDA Today Online 9 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE — The new Tengah town in the west will not just be a forest town, but will also be built using smart and sustainable technology.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB), which had planned Tengah to be a smart town from the start, used a simulation software to test how shifts in wind channels, solar heat and temperature will affect 3D models of the town, so that layouts of the buildings and open spaces can be optimised.

Apart from the standard suite of eco-friendly features incorporated into all new HDB projects since 2014, such as smart lighting in common areas and centralised chutes for recyclables, public housing in Tengah will also include an automated waste collection system, like the ones used in Yuhua and Punggol Northshore.

Several members of the public who visited the Tengah exhibition at HDB Hub in Toa Payoh on Friday (Sept 9) told TODAY they were interested in the upcoming town’s novel features, especially its green environment and car-free town centre.

Mr James Tan, 71, who came with his son, said he was highly interested in the town after hearing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talk about the plans for Tengah during his National Day Rally last month.

Apart from being attracted to Tengah’s abundant greenery, Mr Tan, a semi-retiree who works in the health industry, said its car-free town centre — the first in Singapore — will allow his grandchildren to roam about the area without the risk of being hit by a car.

While Mr Tan Lye Wah, 52, is interested in the concept of Tengah as a “forest town”, he said the HDB cannot expect people to be packing their bags to move to newer towns all the time.

“Especially for older people who stay in mature estates, more can be done to improve the surroundings of those towns to match what is being promised in these newer towns,” said Mr Tan, who works in the manufacturing sector.

Environmental groups told TODAY that they appreciated the effort and thought put in by the town planners in setting up the forest corridor in Tengah that will link the Western Catchment Area and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

“I was very pleased to hear that there will be a buffer zone for the animals to (return to) nature if they do go out of the catchment areas,” said Mr Ben Lee, founder of Nature Trekker, a nature conservation organisation.

However, he hopes that the forest or green corridor can be widened beyond 100m to give more space and security to the wildlife, especially since the Western Catchment Area, which houses rare local wildlife such as the pangolin and the leopard cat, is more vulnerable to human interference.

Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, director of Strix Wildlife Consultancy, said he is glad that surveys of Tengah are currently being carried out to study the flora and fauna before development work on the town starts.

“While we create a new settlement that can retain a large number of people, animals must also be able to continue to forage and roost in their own habitats,” he added.

Dr Ho Hua Chew, vice-chair of the conservation committee at Nature Society (Singapore), said the green corridor is a huge step forward in the Government’s land-use planning. However, he added, what needs to be addressed is the lack of a natural core area for displaced wildlife to seek shelter and survive, before eventually dispersing to other areas through the corridor.

Dr Ho noted that Tengah’s forest town is being largely created by planting trees along roads, which is not attractive to forest wildlife, and the proposed Central Park seems to be mainly for human recreation.

“They (the forest wildlife) are also living beings who need a home or a place in the sun,” he said.

Car-free town centre among draws of Tengah ‘forest town’
ILIYAS JUANDA Today Online 9 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE — Based on Tengah’s key novelty features of being a “forest town” and its projected car-free town centre, property analysts told TODAY that they expect to see a very healthy demand for homes there because of its new town-planning concepts, but the estate would hold its strongest appeal to those who already live and work in the western region.

The new Housing and Development Board (HDB) estate is part of the Government’s efforts to transform the west as a regional district, and is near developments such as the Jurong Lake District, slated to be Singapore’s second Central Business District (CBD), where the future Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail terminal will be.

The first batch of HDB flats is expected to be launched from 2018 and the town — the size of Bishan and set to be fully developed over 20 years — would have 42,000 new homes.

Propnex Realty’s chief executive Ismail Gafoor said that one group most likely to want to live there would be the newly married, the younger generation who have grown up in the area who are tech-savvy and who want to live near their parents.

ERA Realty Network’s key executive officer Eugene Lim shared similar views, saying that this group would appreciate it more than those who live farther in eastern Singapore. He added that it would be interesting to see how HDB works in smart features in its planning.

On the car-free town centre, Mr Alan Cheong, research head at Savills Singapore, said that people would be able to mingle better with “no barrier, no roads” and he wanted to see how architects would plan the layout of shops and commercial zones to enhance the experience of the town.

Prices of Tengah flats should be comparable to suburban new towns such as Punggol, the analysts said. Mr Ismail added that it was likely that Tengah flats would be “at least 20 per cent cheaper” than those in the Bidadari area, given that the latter had a more central location.

The analysts pointed out that Tengah, which lies at the borders of Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Jurong West, is still a little out-of-the-way for some, and its success in drawing buyers from non-neighbouring estates would also depend on how well the developments pan out in Jurong Innovation District and Jurong Lake District.

Ms Caroline Koh, manager (research and consultancy) at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, said that while the decentralisation of the CBD to Jurong is ongoing, it would “not be easy to convince someone living nearer downtown to move to Tengah”, especially if their workplace is in the current CBD. Mr Cheong said that relocating the workforce from the CBD would also be difficult “unless you build a new MRT line that is an express ride bypassing existing lines, from major employment nodes in the current CBD to Tengah”.

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