More community spaces proposed for car-lite, green 'neighbourhoods of the future'

ALFRED CHUA Today Online 16 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Car-lite neighbourhoods potentially served by self-driving vehicles that take residents to and from nearby MRT stations. Bigger green spaces and wider sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. Buildings that are "sensitive" to the natural and built-up landscape.

These are among the features that could define future neighbourhoods in Singapore, starting with three upcoming ones - Bayshore in the east, Holland Plain in the central-west, and Kampong Bugis which is near the city.

Details of the proposals were unveiled on Monday (Oct 16) by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) at the launch of a month-long exhibition at the URA Centre Atrium.

At the heart of the proposals are three broad concepts: Car-lite neighbourhoods that put the people's needs first, vibrant and inviting community spaces that encourage interaction, and the incorporation of environmental features that not only enliven the living spaces but assist in recycling and waste management.

The URA said it wants to encourage greater interaction among residents and the community at large without sacrificing their need for privacy and security. Suggestions to do this include creating a more "open-concept" precinct that makes better use of landscaping, or water features, as natural barriers.

"In all of these new neighbourhoods, we will nurture a stronger sense of community. We want to strengthen the ‘kampung’ spirit in our modern urban habitats," National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in a speech at the opening of the exhibition.

The three new neighbourhoods are slated to have a combined total of about 19,000 private and public housing units. Holland Plain and Kampong Bugis are expected to have private housing, while Bayshore will have a mix of public and private properties.

Greater connectivity to MRT stations will be one common design feature in all three neighbourhoods. "All three upcoming precincts will be within a comfortable 5 to 10-minute walk to one or more MRT stations," said Mr Wong, noting that additional "last-mile connectivity" features will be added as well, such as a new underpass and footbridge to link Kampong Bugis directly to the nearby Kallang and Lavender MRT stations.

The URA intends Kampong Bugis, which will be launched in a year or two's time, to be developed into a car-lite town for residents and families who prefer taking public transport, or walking and cycling.

The lower car dependency in the neighbourhood will likely mean fewer parking spaces, with the land freed up instead for parks and community spaces.

At the precinct, which will be planned and designed by a master developer, car park lot provisions could be adjusted to one lot for every two residential units.

A district-level pneumatic waste conveyance system — a first for a private residential district — has also been proposed. The system can collect waste from all residential units into one central station through a vacuum system.

Meanwhile, Holland Plain estate, which sits adjacent to the rail corridor and is scheduled for a 2021 launch, will feature plenty of green spaces, according to the proposals showcased by the URA. This includes a new wetland park and a large community plain.

There are also proposed plans to widen the neighbourhood's sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. For instance, the existing 1.5m-wide footpaths on the fringes of Holland Plain could be expanded to 3.5m-wide.

The URA added that new buildings in Holland Plain will be "sensitive" to its surroundings, by taking into account the area's "sloping character", and its proximity to landed housing estates, the Rail corridor, and the park connector along the diversion canal.

For Bayshore, which will be launched after 2024, the URA is looking to turn it into a "future-ready community". Suggestions floated include making it a car-lite neighbourhood, potentially with self-driving vehicles providing residents transportation to and from the two MRT stations that serve the estate.

There would be fewer car park lots, and roads in the estate could be reduced from three to two lanes in order to free up space for community facilities. "The master plan will anticipate changes in technology in phases, providing resiliency to adapt to the changing needs," the URA said.

These proposals will be exhibited on weekdays from Oct 16 to Nov 20. The public is invited to provide feedback on the ideas shown, and can either do so at the exhibition, or online at ura.sg/futurehoods

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