Bidadari to retain its greenery and heritage

HDB's call for masterplan proposals reveals vision for the new town
Grace Chua Straits Times 31 Jul 12;

THE upcoming Bidadari housing estate will have a regional park, retain its hilly and lush landscape, and celebrate its history and heritage, said the Housing Board.

The estate, which sits on a 93ha former cemetery site, will "creatively incorporate" historical elements.

These will complement the existing Bidadari Memorial Garden, which holds the tombstones of 21 prominent early citizens.

The board's vision for Singapore's newest town since Punggol was unveiled in documents calling for development proposals which were obtained by The Straits Times.

The board said Bidadari town will be very pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly and have seamless connections between transport nodes and places of attraction.

All in, the HDB wants the estate - about a quarter of Clementi town in terms of land area - to be a "distinctive and sustainable tranquil urban oasis".

Bidadari ceased burials in 1972 and was exhumed through the early 2000s. It is currently a rolling expanse of greenery frequented by joggers.

Some 12,000 private and HDB homes will be developed on the site bounded by Bartley Road, Upper Serangoon Road, Sennett Estate and Mount Vernon Road.

Infrastructure work like site preparation and earthworks will start at the end of this year. The first HDB build-to-order launch could take place as early as 2015, with flats completed in 2018.

The HDB is asking planners and consultants for expressions of interest to develop the estate's masterplan. Up to five will be invited to tender for the project.

Besides the proposals for master planning and urban design of the new estate, the HDB is seeking a team to design, construct and maintain one public housing project within the estate.

The call for expressions of interest closes on Aug 6. A tender for the masterplan is likely to be awarded in November and the plan completed next February.

Commenting on the documents, MP Lee Bee Wah, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development, said she was pleased that the undulating terrain of Bidadari is to be retained.

"We can make this estate different from others, rather than replicate HDB townships all over again," she said, urging planners not to overlook transport requirements too.

The area is served by three MRT stations: Bartley, Woodleigh and Potong Pasir.

Environment consultant Eugene Tay said: "It's good that the proposal brief includes retaining the existing greenery and past heritage of the area, and also requirements for sustainability studies and planning."

He suggested setting quantitative environmental targets, similar to the Building and Construction Authority's Green Mark scheme for parks or districts.

As a cemetery, Bidadari was the resting place for notable personalities like doctor and reformist Lim Boon Keng and lawyer and civic leader Song Ong Siang. In the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan 2008, the area that may one day be a regional park includes the current Mount Vernon columbarium.

Ms Olivia Choong, 33, a publicist and resident of Sennett Estate in the area, is excited about the HDB town coming up next door.

"I think it's nice to have new neighbours. We'll enjoy the amenities there too," she said.