Back then, it did not even have LRT

TWELVE years ago, it was a sleepy, out-of-the-way estate without even an LRT line.

That was back when Dr Teo Ho Pin was first elected as Member of Parliament for Bukit Panjang. Shortly after, life began to slowly flow into the estate, with the LRT starting its runs in 1999.

Come 2015, it will be connected directly to the MRT system when the Bukit Panjang station, to be located near Ten Mile Junction, is completed.

This, Dr Teo hopes, will spur the constituency’s development – and his vision for its first town centre, finally.

As “the heart of the whole town”, it would integrate bus, LRT and MRT services as well as commercial and business establishments, said Dr Teo, who is also Mayor for the North West District.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Ang Mo Kio Hub and Jurong Point, he suggested setting up a lifestyle or entertainment hub for younger residents, “so they have choices. Instead of going to the city area, they can go to Bukit Panjang vicinity and have good food and entertainment”.

Other than catering to its 51,000 current residents, a town centre could serve as a “magnet to bring in the people from other areas to increase vibrancy”, he added.

Currently, there are two shopping malls and three neighbourhood shopping centres in the estate. A sports complex next to Pang Sua pond is to be completed by next May.

To integrate the transport services, Dr Teo suggested permanently locating the bus interchange between the MRT and LRT stations, which are about 75m apart. “That will be a very important MRT station for Bukit Panjang because it connects us to the whole country,” he said.

He is working on long-term plans for the town and will give his feedback for a town centre to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Briefing the media yesterday on the transformation of Bukit Panjang over the past 12 years, Dr Teo cited the variety of amenities, such as a community club, library and garden. Five schools have been built, and lift upgrading works are two months to completion.

Overall, the town council has spent some $100 million on improving the estate. Some $8 million of this was drawn from its surplus while the remainder was subsidised by the Government.

Executive Fiona Koh, 22, who has lived in Bukit Panjang for about 10 years, recalled her difficulty in taking buses before the temporary bus interchange was built.

Now, with the upcoming MRT station and hopefully, a town centre,  “people from other parts of country who refuse to come to Bukit Panjang because it’s so ulu might have less reason to not come”, she said.

Client relationship officer Veronica Goh, 28, said residents like herself, living further away from the MRT station, will have some difficulty travelling out of Bukit Panjang.

But having a town centre means residents can do their shopping there, instead of having to commute further, she noted.

Source : Today – 12 Aug 2009

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