Singapore: Leisure Island

NOTHING to do on the weekends in Singapore? Not if its city planners can help it.
Jessica Lim, Straits Times 22 May 08;

Yesterday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) revealed an ambitious blueprint to make Singapore a great place to work, live and have fun in.

Under its Leisure Plan, 900ha of new park space and 260km of park connectors will be added in the next 10 to 15 years.

The plan also includes an uninterrupted 150km round-island cycling and jogging route.

'I think we may be the first and only people in the world to be able to take a walk, relatively easily, around our whole country,' said Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan, unveiling the plan at the Singapore Institute of Architects' 47th annual dinner last night.

He added that Singaporeans need not worry that higher economic and population growth will come at the expense of space and greenery.

The URA plan also earmarks six areas to be developed into leisure hotspots.

Five have been previously announced. Last night, Mr Mah added the sixth - the Kranji and Lim Chu Kang areas which will become a 'countryside' retreat for urban dwellers.

Boating activities such as kayaking will be permitted at the Kranji Reservoir and new parkland and nature trails will allow better access to the Kranji Marshes and the wetlands in Sungei Buloh.

A final plank in the plan is to inject more buzz into the city, especially at night. The URA is relooking everything from night lighting to street fixtures, and hopes to kick-start these after-dark activities with a new Night Festival in July.

The Leisure Plan is part of a bigger blueprint, the 2008 URA Draft Master Plan, which will be revealed tomorrow.

For ideas, URA planners combed the island looking for leisure opportunities for the young and old, said URA chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean.

'We want to ensure that even as we continue to grow, we can still enjoy a very good quality of life,' she said.

Leisure Plan promises fun times ahead
Devts include 150km round-island path, agri-tainment sites and urban hotspots
Emilyn Yan, Business Times 22 May 08;

(SINGAPORE) From a round-the-island jogging route to night festivals in the city, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shown it is serious about fun by coming up with Singapore's first Leisure Plan.

According to National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, there is a need to 'further sharpen Singapore's distinctiveness as a vibrant yet liveable city'.

But the task is not simple, says URA chief executive Cheong Koon Hean. 'It is not just about providing space and facilities to play, it is also about enhancing the variety and quality of leisure options we have around-the-clock, where there is something for everyone.'

Built on the 2003 parks and waterbodies and identity plans, the Leisure Plan aims to enhance Singapore's quality of life. It is part of the 2008 Draft Master Plan that will also focus on sustaining economic growth.

The Leisure Plan seeks to provide recreation to suit everyone.

For those seeking active fun, more green spaces will be available.

For starters, a 150-km round-the-island route for joggers and cyclists is in the works. Linking park connectors and other trails from Changi to areas such as Punggol, Lim Chu Kang, Jurong Lake, Marina Bay and back, the route will be finished in 10-15 years. Stretches in some regions such as the Southern Ridges are already complete, and the next five years will see at least half the route laid out.

Bringing parks closer to homes, the park connector network will more than triple in size from 100 km to 360 km in the next 10-15 years. The web will expand further to include six more loops in the next five years, in areas such as Siglap-Kallang.

Parks will grow to 4,200 ha in the next 15 years, from 3,300 ha today. In the more immediate future, new parks in areas such as Lower Seletar Reservoir will appear.

Besides parks, more accessible waterways and new sports facilities will become must-go destinations for residents keen on outdoor play.

Beyond creating spaces, the Leisure Plan aims to carve out destinations with a distinctive character.

Under the second part of the plan, the 1,400-ha Kranji and Lim Chu Kang area will become a countryside getaway. Besides the 115 farms there, new parkland, new trails though Kranji Marshes, three agri-tainment sites and other facilities will be created.

In the city area, special lighting will dot areas such as Orchard Road, Bugis and Marina Bay to help give the island a vibrant nightlife.

And the National Heritage Board will step up the beat over two weekends in July in the Bras Basah and Stamford Road area, with night festivals featuring live music, street theatre and other performances. The Singapore Tourism Board will follow in September with its Singapore River Festival.

Arts activities and lifestyle hotspots such as Tanglin Village and Rochester Park will also provide urban entertainment.

Industry players are positive on more recreation. 'The development of recreational venues is a boon to surrounding residential areas,' said Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han. 'With more attractions and infrastructure being built, we are likely to see higher demand and a sustainable price increase over the longer term.'

Supporting that view, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore Ku Swee Yong said: 'A planning approach that packages work and play around daily activities in one area, such as the proposed Jurong Lake District, will mean premium property prices in the area.'

In particular, more recreational venues will help the western region of Singapore shed its industrial image to present a better value proposition for home buyers. As Mr Han noted: 'Residential prices in the east are traditionally higher because of the diversity of attractions in the area - golf courses, the beach, restaurants and interesting food and beverage chill-out concepts.'

Kranji Countryside Association president Ivy Singh-Lim supports the increased focus on agri-tainment. According to her, visitors will benefit from a refuge away from the city and farmers can gain additional income.

But Mrs Singh-Lim is concerned that development could encroach on the area's rustic charm, and hopes agri-tainment will become just be 'part of the scene (of sustainable agriculture)'.

URA will launch the Draft Master Plan 2008 exhibition tomorrow for the public to give feedback.

Leisure Plan drawn up to enhance recreational options in Singapore
Channel NewsAsia 21 May 08;

SINGAPORE: In the near future, one will be able to stroll, jog or cycle around the whole of Singapore just by following an extensive route.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is developing a 150-kilometre round-island path as part of its Leisure Plan.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan revealed details of new recreational options at the Architectural Design Awards 2008 ceremony on Wednesday.

The round-island route will be developed over the next 10 to 15 years, but up to two-thirds of the path – which includes the Punggol Coastal Promenade – could be ready in just five years.

At three and a half times the length of the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), the route will comprise existing and new park connectors, waterfront promenades and other trails.

It will also cover leisure destinations at the Marina Bay, Changi Point and the upcoming Jurong Lake District.

Mr Mah said: "We may be the first and only people in the world to be able to take a relatively easy walk around our whole country. You can spend a morning with your family at East Coast Park, enjoy the sea breeze at the new coastal promenades at Punggol and Woodlands, or take an evening stroll through our hilltops at the Southern Ridges."

Besides visiting the rustic countryside and farms at Lim Chu Kang, the more adventurous will also be able to trek along new nature trails to the 17-hectare Kranji Marshes.

Furthermore, the National Parks Board will be launching a Wetland Master Plan in the Sungei Buloh area to promote "bio-learning" activities.

Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of URA, said: "We already have the very beautiful Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, which we will enhance. We will add 21 hectares of park land around it to protect the ecology of the entire system.

"The agri-tainment sites have been introduced because a lot of people just want to get away and experience farmstays, so we are creating opportunities to do that. Some sites will be tendered out for agri-tainment use."

Singaporeans can also look forward to more quiet retreats, which will be made available with 900 hectares of new green spaces, including the new Gardens by the Bay and the Diary Farm Nature Park.

Authorities also plan to triple the existing park connector network from the current 100 kilometres to 360 kilometres within 15 years.

Waterways like the one in Bukit Chermin will be made more accessible. At the same time, urban planners are considering converting some of the black-and-white bungalows there into boutique hotels or spas.

The URA has also come up with ideas to transform Singapore into a 24/7 city. One way is to create more lifestyle hotspots like the one at Dempsey Hill. In the years ahead, new chill-out places will be found at the Lakeside Village in Jurong and Kallang Riverside.

Some other leisure plans will be happening much sooner this year. Come July, the National Heritage Board is holding a Night Festival at the Bras Basah area, followed by the Singapore Tourism Board's Singapore River Festival in September.

Besides hosting more programmes, URA said improvements like better night-lighting, new street furniture and more attractive activity spaces will be introduced to create a better ambience for people to enjoy the nightlife in Singapore.- CNA/so

Welcome to leisure island
Loh Chee Kong, Today Online 22 May 08;

SOON, when someone claims there is nothing to do in Singapore, you can tell him to go fly a kite. Or cycle around the island, literally.

Alternatively, he can relax amid the rustic charms of Changi on a spa treatment table, soak up the carnival atmosphere at night festivals down by the Singapore River and Bras Basah area, or take in a theatre performance at the nearest community centre.

Apart from a more vibrant arts scene and nightlife, parks, green space connectors, farms and a 150km round-island route form the centrepiece of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) plan to up the Republic's leisure quotient — the first time the urban planners have drawn up a comprehensive scheme to help Singaporeans relax and have fun.

Notably, Changi's distinct colonial flavour would be retained, with all-time haunts such as the old Changi Hospital and former Hendon Camp converted to spa resorts. The vicinity's black-and-white bungalows could also be turned into boutique hotels.

Unveiling the "Leisure Plan" yesterday as part of the URA's draft masterplan for the next 10 to 15 years, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said that with "judicious land use planning", Singapore would be able to set aside land for new leisure options — or "valuable gateways for our city dwellers".

At the same time, the URA will enhance the "night-time buzz" along Orchard Road, the Singapore River, Bras Basah and Bugis areas and Marina Bay through activities, bolder night lighting and new street furniture.

"Singaporeans need not be concerned that higher economic and population growth will come at the expense of a sense of space and greenery. Even as we seek to further green our city, we want to add life and colour to our city centre," said Mr Mah, who was speaking at the Singapore Institute of Architects' 47th annual dinner.

Touted to redefine the Republic as a "City of Garden and Water", the blueprint would see the creation of new trails into the previously inaccessible Kranji marshland, while the Sungei Buloh wetland reserve would undergo a makeover. The Kranji and Lim Chu Kang area would also be spruced up into a "unique countryside destination" boasting of farm stays, spa resorts and kayaking.

Some 900 hectares of land would be carved out as parks, increasing park space by 27 per cent to 4,200 ha. Eventually, the total park space in Singapore would be equivalent to the size of 15 Bishan Parks.

The round-island route, which would take a day of cycling or a whole weekend of walking to complete, would take visitors through the "nature retreats, breathtaking waterfront views, beautiful beaches and attractive parks".

For instance, a family can spend a morning at East Coast Park, enjoy the sea breeze at the Punggol promenade, take an evening stroll through the scenic Southern Ridges and end the day by pitching a tent at a campsite along the way.

Mr Mah enthused: "I think we may be the first and only people in the world to be able to take a walk, relatively easily, around our whole country."

Part of the route is already in place, with Changi Point linked to the Southern Ridges via East Coast Park -- a trail described by avid cyclist Joshua Lee as "beautiful".

Still, the 28-year-old pointed out: "Unless the park connectors have nearby amenities such as fast food restaurants and restrooms, they will not be fully utilised as most people would stay put within hotspots like East Coast Park."

By 2013, at least half of the route would be completed, in tandem with the creation of an extensive web of connectors linking up parks located all over the island.

The draft masterplan would be fully unveiled on Friday with a month-long exhibition at the URA Centre. The public is invited to give its feedback.

Planning for the LONG RUN
Joggers, rejoice - the URA's Leisure Plan means you'll be able to enjoy a 150km run around Singapore
Desmond Ng, The New Paper 23 May 08;

FIND jogging along East Coast Park a bore?

How about a 150km jog around the entire country, passing through estates like Punggol, Sembawang and Jurong on the way?

The route, about 3 1/2 times the length of the Pan-Island Expressway, will be seamless - which means you will not be running across any of the expressways.

And completing it should take you a whole day, assuming you've got the stamina to run such a distance.

The route is part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Leisure Plan, which includes provisions for a range of activities.

The plan was unveiled yesterday by Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan at the Singapore Institute of Architects 47th annual dinner.

Said Mr Mah: 'When fully completed, the round-island route will bring Singaporeans even closer to our coastline and greenery.'

The highlights of the Leisure Plan include enhancing Singapore's greenery, creating leisure destinations with unique offerings and encouraging greater buzz and nightlife in the city.

Some of the green enhancements include increasing park spaces from the current 3,300ha to 4,200ha.

The park connector network will also be more than tripled from 100km today to 360km.

The round-island route, which will allow people to cycle, stroll or run around the country, will also have sections linked by park connectors, coastal promenades and so on.

It will be ready in 10 to 15 years, said the URA.

Areas earmarked for change include Kranji and Lim Chu Kang.

New park land, agri-tainment such as farm stays, and greater access to nature areas will make this project a unique countryside attraction.

Other areas to get a revamp will be the Jurong Lake District, Mandai, Changi Point, Southern Ridges and the City Centre.

There are also plans to spice up Orchard Road, the Singapore River, Bras Basah, Bugis and Marina Bay to keep the city buzzing.

URA's chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean said this is the first time that such an island-wide plan has been drawn up, with a range of leisure opportunities for all.

She added: 'We want to ensure that even as we continue to grow, we can still enjoy a very good quality of life.

'It is not just about providing space and facilities to play, it is also enhancing the variety and quality of leisure options we have round-the-clock, where there is something for everyone.'

The Leisure Plan is part of the Draft Master Plan 2008 Review.

The Master Plan is a statutory land use plan that URA develops to guide Singapore's development over the next 10 to 15 years. It is reviewed every five years.

Members of the public can give their feedback during the Draft Master Plan 2008 exhibition this Friday at the URA Centre.