Save our knoll, urges Punggol residents' group

Proposed road will harm last natural feature in Punggol Waterway, it says

Grace Chua Straits Times 5 Feb 13;

RESIDENTS living near a forested hill in Punggol are urging the authorities not to build a proposed road through what they say is the last natural feature left around the Punggol Waterway.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the road is meant to serve planned developments around the knoll. A spokesman said the road would "provide greater connectivity and access" for Punggol residents.

The hill is in a 500m by 100m green space sandwiched between the Punggol 17th Avenue estate and the Punggol Waterway.

"The forested knoll provides the waterway with its best view and its most scenic backdrop," said retiree Tan See Ting, 61, who has lived in the area for 15 years.

Although the hill is "not super rich" in wildlife, it is home to squirrels, parakeets, monkeys and other species, he added.

The tranquil Punggol 17th Avenue estate consists of about 80 homes as well as the St Francis Xavier Catholic seminary and the Marina Country Club.

Mr Tan said a neighbour had alerted him in 2008 to proposals for the road and another larger, parallel trunk road between their estate and the Punggol Waterway in development plans.
In February 2008, he and a group of neighbours went to see then-MP Charles Chong about the plans.

Their appeal against the road was turned down two months later.

In November 2011, they submitted a petition, which had more than 80 signatures, to their MP, Dr Janil Puthucheary.

They met him and representatives of the URA, the Housing Board, Land Transport Authority and National Parks Board.

Last March, the URA told the group that the road would serve future developments while the Punggol Waterway Park and the green space south of it "will more than offset for the loss of the knoll".

Now the group is concerned that if it waits until the next masterplan regarding land use is published, it would be too late, said Mr Lee Nyuk Sze, 55, director of an import-export firm.

Despite concerns about the trunk road too, he added: "It's too late for us to ask them to relook the major trunk road system. Ideally, we would have wanted both roads not to be built."

He noted that when the area is served by LRT trains, residents would have enough transport links to get to the town centre.

The URA confirmed that it had received feedback from the residents and had been engaging them to explain the developments.

The spokesman said: "The land use plan is being reviewed and will be exhibited as part of the next masterplan review."

Said Mr Lee: "The brief ought to be, is there anything worth preserving? If not, okay.

"But if we willy-nilly go in, erase everything, and if there was something that we ought to have retained, it's too late."