Kallang River set to get a facelift

SIAU MING EN Today Online 29 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — The Kallang River, Singapore’s longest natural river that stretches from Lower Peirce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin, is set to undergo a facelift, as the authorities on Wednesday (March 29) revealed some initial ideas to build spiral ramps across the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and waterfront housing developments.

The 10km river – about three times the length of the Singapore River – passes through several housing estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh, Bendemeer and Kallang Bahru, and houses some 800,000 people living within 2km of the river.

Another 100,000 residential units are expected to be built within the next 20 years and the area will be served by 20 MRT stations when the new lines are up by 2023.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Wednesday (March 29) officiated the launch of an exhibition on the preliminary conceptual plans for the river held at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Centre.

The URA is gathering public feedback for the ideas put up at the exhibition, which it noted are “conceptual and aspirational in nature”. The authority will spend the rest of the year engaging stakeholders and the public before revealing more details next year.

The move to spruce up Singapore’s waterfront is not new and has been ongoing since the 1980s, after the clean-up of both the Singapore River and the Kallang Basin. While such efforts have largely been focused on the Singapore River, Marina Bay and the Kallang Basin, a URA spokesperson said the “time is ripe” to start a discussion to “further rejuvenate” the Kallang River.

One of the key ideas put forward by the URA is to improve the connectivity and allow users to walk, jog or cycle along an uninterrupted route from Bishan to the city.

Currently, the Kallang Park Connector is obstructed by major roads and expressways, such as the Central Expressway (CTE), PIE and Sims Avenue, where users will have to use traffic crossings or overhead bridges to get to the next stretch of the park connector.

Initial ideas include building spiral ramps across the PIE so users can skip the long flight of steps leading to the overhead bridge, while the existing CTE underpass could be widened to become a gathering or event space. Underpasses could also be built along Kallang Bahru Road, Upper Boon Keng Road and Sims Avenue.

There are also ideas to redevelop the residential and industrial estates on both sides of the Kallang River.

For instance, the Kallang Industrial Estate – made up of several smaller industrial estates at the Kallang Basin, Kallang Bahru and Kallang Avenue – could be developed into a mixed-use precinct, which includes new industrial developments for the future economy.

Across the river, the Kallang Distripark, a private industrial estate bordered by the river, Kallang Bahru and Geylang Bahru, could be converted to a greener residential neighborhood with waterfront parks and recreational spaces.

Further south from the Kallang Industrial Estate is the Kampong Bugis site, which will be turned into a car-lite residential precinct, including pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly paths that connect users to nearby amenities and communal spaces.

The 17.4-ha site between the river, Crawford Street and Kallang Road has been earmarked for private residential use.

At the Ministry of National Development’s budget debate earlier this month, Mr Wong said the site will be piloted under a master developer concept to give private developers the freedom to create a masterplan and urban design plan for the district, subject to broad planning parameters set by the URA.

Other ideas are to improve the waterfront areas, including ongoing works for an Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters and drainage upgrading project between Bishan and Braddell Road.

To be completed by the last quarter of next year, this 1.8km stretch will be lined with a meandering stream, planter islands, cascading waters and a rain garden, which collects and cleanses rainwater runoff before discharging it into the river.

On the southern end of the river, the Kallang Basin area around the Sports Hub will be turned into an inclusive sports and recreational venue. For instance, running trails, and facilities such as a new football hub and free-to-play courts will be built around Jalan Benaan Kapal.

Stretches of the river can be naturalised or have wider green setbacks to increase its biodiversity. More parks or greenery could be added along the river banks as well.

Members of the public are also invited to share their memories and history of the Kallang River, where the Kallang Basin area used to be polluted by the surrounding pig and duck farms and cottage industries before the clean-up in the mid-80s.

100,000 housing units could be built next to Kallang River in next 20 years
Andrea Saadan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Mar 17;

Good news for those who have always wanted to live near a river: A total of 100,000 new residential units may be built next to Kallang River over the next 20 years.

Minister for National Development Mr Lawrence Wong said the new home units will be within 2km of both sides of the Kallang River, with Kampong Bugis being one of the key residential precincts.

He made the announcement Wednesday (Mar 29) at the launch of 'A River Runs Through It', an exhibition on the rejuvenation of Kallang River by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The Kampong Bugis area is about 17 hectares in size, and is envisioned as a new residential precinct "that is people-centric and car-lite", said Mr Wong.

Also primed to be developed into a new waterfront housing area is Kallang Distripark, said the URA in a statement on Wednesday.

As such, URA said it will introduce "vibrant commercial and recreational nodes along the river to provide more avenues for both work and play."

For example, within the Kallang Basin itself, Singaporeans will be able to enjoy greater access to water sports.

One such idea that is being developed for implementation is an eventual stream, cascading waters and rain gardens between Bishan Road and Braddell Road, according to the URA.

Older industrial estates can be transformed into new mixed-use areas, said Mr Wong in his speech this morning.

The minister said: "This will provide more opportunities for businesses seeking to leverage on the area's proximity to the city centre and its good connectivity."

Future residents within the Kallang River area will also have more jogging and cycling paths along the river promenade.

However, Mr Wong did point out the fact that the park connectors that run along the river are over twenty years old and "are not entirely seamless".

This includes an intersection at the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) where pedestrians and cyclists need to cross an overhead bridge that extends across the 16-lane expressway.

But there are possible solutions to create a more seamless inter-town cycling route, said Mr Wong.

One idea is to have elevated cable bridges. More of such ideas to overcome major obstacles along the river bank can be viewed at the Kallang River exhibition, URA said.

Rejuvenated Kallang River to raise appeal of neighbouring properties
ANGELA TENG Today Online 30 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE —With the rejuvenation of the Kallang River area, real estate experts say the properties along the river are likely to draw greater appeal through its lifestyle concept — car-lite, healthy living and amenities — and will no longer be just a waterfront housing.

Overall, property prices are also expected to increase in value following the revamp, they added.

The Kallang River, Singapore’s longest natural river that stretches from Lower Peirce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin, is set to undergo a revamp, the authorities said on Wednesday. Some initial ideas include building spiral ramps across the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), a comprehensive pedestrian and cycling network to reduce reliance on cars, and waterfront housing developments.

The 10km river — about three times the length of the Singapore River — passes through several housing estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh, Bendemeer and Kallang Bahru.

About 800,000 people live within 2km of the Kallang River, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) believes there is potential to add another 100,000 dwelling units into the area in the next 20 years. Analysts expect the new homes to be located close to the river, on vacant land or to take over some industrial areas.

Mr Ong Kah Seng, director at R’ST Research, said: “For Kallang River areas on the whole, there will be enhanced accessibility through a seamless active mobility route from Bishan to the city. It could be indeed a unique, uplifting place and perhaps an improved version of Punggol’s waterway-living concept.

“The Kallang River area is set to be the bolder, more exciting and sophisticated version of Punggol, especially in landscaping, being car-lite and with its amenities. Being car-lite also sets it apart from all estates or localities in Singapore that have yet to offer such a unique living (and commuting) experience.”

Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, added that the properties by the Kallang River will rise in value. “Where previously they only have a view of the river, they will now have recreational facilities along it.”

JLL head of research Tay Huey Ying sees the proposal to transform the Kallang Industrial Estate into a vibrant mixed-used precinct as an opportunity to implement the Committee on the Future Economy’s recommendation for greater flexibility in land use.

“Strategically located at the fringe of the CBD (central business district), there is potential for this locality to be developed to serve the rising e-commerce needs for flexible warehouse-retailing use in light of the blurring of lines between retailing and warehousing in an environment of explosive growth in e-commerce,” she noted.

JTC’s director for land planning division Tang Hsiao Ling said in a statement yesterday that the JTC will work closely with the URA to transform the estate into a vibrant mixed-use precinct with high-rise facilities to meet the evolving needs of industry.

Ms Tang added that the revitalisation plans for the estate are still under discussion, and could potentially include integration with future residential developments along the waterfront and parks, which will bring jobs closer to home.

“In order to provide more social and recreational spaces for the community, we are also looking at the possibility of introducing a comprehensive pedestrian and cycling network, which will enhance walkability within the estate and connectivity to the Kallang River,” she shared.

Property developer UOL Group’s deputy group CEO Liam Wee Sin said in a statement that they are “excited about this opportunity to be part of the rejuvenation of this river.”

The developer is completing the sale and purchase of the en-bloc sale site of Raintree Garden in May, and the development will blend seamlessly with the waterfront promenade, and contribute to place-making and injecting vibrancy along the Kallang River.

“We will be preserving as many of the existing raintrees lining the riverfront to create a distinct identity for this enclave along the river,” Mr Liam said. Angela Teng

URA to develop Kallang River into lifestyle hub
Samantha Boh, The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Mar 17;

At Kallang Distripark in Geylang Bahru Road sits the dull, boxlike shape of a disused rubber factory that has been converted into a warehouse.

But a plan to breathe life into the waterway and its surroundings has been put in motion, to transform it into a place where sportsmen kayak in the nearby Kallang River and residents cycle along seamless park connectors.

The 15ha private industrial estate has been identified as a potential site, among several others, that can be redeveloped as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) ambitious plan to turn the area along the 10km river - almost three times longer than the iconic Singapore River - into a lifestyle hub.

The Government aims to redevelop certain plots and put in place new infrastructure so that it will one day be possible for residents to walk, jog or cycle from Lower Peirce Reservoir, where the river originates, to Gardens by the Bay and the Central Business District.

Among the URA's suggestions is building a cycling bridge that spirals over and across the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), which would make it more convenient for cyclists and joggers to cross the PIE.

They currently have to use an overhead bridge.

It also hopes to build underpasses across Kallang Bahru Road and Upper Boon Keng Road so that people using the park connector will not need to navigate a traffic crossing.

The agency's ideas for improvements are on display at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road, in the A River Runs Through It exhibition. It was launched by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong yesterday and will run till May 2.

The URA hopes to get public feedback through the free exhibition, which is open from 9am to 6pm on weekdays.

Consultations with residents, landowners and other stakeholders will continue for the next couple of years, though more details can be expected next year, the URA said.

The budget for the project has not been finalised.

Ms Tang Hsiao Ling, director of JTC's Land Planning Division, said it will work closely with the URA to transform Kallang Industrial Estate into a vibrant mixed-use precinct with high-rise facilities to meet the evolving needs of industry.

"The revitalisation plans for the estate are still under discussion, and could potentially include integration with future residential developments along the waterfront and parks, which will bring jobs closer to home," she said.

Ideas for transformation of Kallang River area, better connectivity get widespread approval
SIAU MING EN Today Online 30 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — A transformation of the Kallang River holds the potential for exciting developments, such as expanding the car-lite model to the waterfront area, and would encourage more people to commute along that corridor, said experts, interest groups and residents.

Assistant Professor Raymond Ong from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said yesterday that these initial ideas for more car-lite waterfront areas near the river were “refreshing”.

“It’s a good initiative to treat this as a case study or a prime example of how we can do similar things for other waterfronts,” he told TODAY.

Previously, car-lite initiatives were mostly confined to certain housing estates, said Dr Ong.

But he also noted that improving the connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians along the 10km-long river would be different from building regular park connectors, such as the need to plan for infrastructure to get across the river, instead of just moving up and down the corridor.

The cycling path from Bishan to Kallang Basin would also take users along housing developments, industrial estates and a sports area.

Planners will then have to consider the different requirements of these areas, such as wider roads and more bicycle parking spaces near sporting facilities, or more greenery and fewer storage spaces for bicycles and personal mobility devices near residential areas, added Dr Ong.

Associate Professor Yu Shi-Ming, from NUS School of Design and Environment, also noted that given the mixed-use developments along the river, planners could have a problem pinning down a theme or identity for the area.

In the case of the Singapore River, people can identify the area as a place for leisure and entertainment, he noted.

Cycling group Love Cycling SG’s co-founder Woon Tai Woon also welcomed the ideas to improve the connectivity of the paths along the river.

Noting that members in the group used to joke about how the flight of 83 steps up the overhead bridge near the Pan-Island Expressway was a “standard obstacle course” for cyclists, he said the idea of having a spiral ramp would help make the journey smoother.

Mr Woon also suggested building lifts near these ramps so that the elderly can easily access such crossings.

Potong Pasir resident Kao Shu Lian, 28, said these new ideas would make the Kallang River area “more inviting and pleasant”.

The architect added that she would also be more inclined to explore parts of Singapore through these networks.

A Bishan resident, who wanted to be known only as Madam Tiaw, felt that the area would become livelier if the ideas were implemented.

“I don’t usually do sports, but I will attend more events there (in future), and go for a stroll if my children are willing to go along,” said the 63-year-old retiree. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ANGELA TENG

5 ideas floated to give Kallang River a facelift
Channel NewsAsia 29 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: Five broad key ideas to rejuvenate Kallang River were introduced on Wednesday (Mar 29), when the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched the A River Runs Through It exhibition.

The exhibition is a call for public feedback and ideas on a preliminary conceptual plan to rejuvenate the Kallang River, and revitalise the areas around the river, and was officiated by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, the URA press release said.

According to the agency, the Kallang River is Singapore's longest natural river. There are now about 800,000 people living within 2km of the river and, in the next 20 years, there is potential to inject around another 100,000 housing units in the area, it added.

As such, the Government is proposing the following:

1. Activate the waterfront, and enhance Kallang Basin as a sports and recreational venue
One idea being developed for implementation is an eventual stream, cascading waters and rain gardens between Bishan Road and Braddell Road. Studies are being carried out to see if more facilities are needed at the area around the Sports Hub to strengthen it as an inclusive sports and recreational precinct.
2. Inject new waterfront housing developments in park-like settings and renew old industrial estates
Kampong Bugis and Kallang Distripark are primed for the development of quality green residential neighbourhoods, and the Kallang Industrial Estate has the potential to be renewed into a mixed-use precinct with new industrial developments.
3. Enhance accessibility by providing a seamless active mobility route along Kallang River between Bishan and city centre
The exhibition presents some ideas to overcome major obstacles along the river bank, such as new underpasses and a cycling bridge across the Pan Island Expressway.
4. Enrich the biodiversity of Kallang River
Current habitats along the river can be complemented with the naturalisation of more stretches of the waterway, and wider green setbacks, to allow biodiversity to flourish even more, URA proposed.
5. Celebrate and incorporate the river’s rich heritage
The public will be invited to help capture the memories and heritage associated with the river to enrich future development plans, said URA.

The agency is calling on the public to share their feedback on ideas to revitalise the river, and will also be inviting grassroots and residents living along the river and other shareholders to the exhibition for their views.

The ideas and proposals will be exhibited at The URA Centre Atrium from Mar 29 to May 2, 9am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, it said.

- CNA/kk

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