‘The whole country will be transformed’

HUNDREDS of thousands of homes — from ageing and middle-aged flats, to private homes and even the sluggish Punggol 21 development — are up for a fresh lease of life, as the Prime Minister unveiled a slew of upgrading initiatives aimed at boosting Singaporeans’ asset values.Reiterating the Government’s promise to upgrade flats and estates when it has the surpluses to, Mr Lee Hsien Loong said: “We will remake the whole country. It will take us 20 or 30 years but eventually, the whole country will be transformed.”

One old neighbourhood getting a completely new face is Dawson Estate in Queenstown. The mammoth plan is to build some 10,000 HDB and private units — designed by award-winning architects — in an area that includes three HDB precincts and the Alexandra Canal, which will be turned into a linear park.

At the same time, landmarks like the old town centre square and the old Commonwealth Avenue wet market will be preserved, for “a sense of history and place” as well as character, Mr Lee said.

At the other end of the scale, the Punggol 21 development — which saw a slow-down due to the financial crisis upon its launch in 1998 — will be brought back on track, with bonus features.

The upgraded Punggol 21+ plan will include a big water feature created by damming Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon, providing river views and water activities. A town centre will also be developed by the waterfront, as will rooftop gardens, al-fresco dining and even a floating island.

Punggol 21+, an enclave of some 18,000 units, will be “the face of the new Singapore” — with fun and buzz, said Mr Lee.

Meanwhile, private estates, which have professed to feeling “neglected”, will come under a “big bang” upgrading programme, and be allowed to dip into Community Improvement Projects Committee funds — now limited to HDB precincts — for upgrading works.

Mr Lee summed up: “No other city in the world can do this: Public housing that is attractive, affordable, appealing, that gives a quality home for every citizen and … an asset which will appreciate in value and help to provide for your old age. In Singapore, we can do it.”

Source : Today – 20 Aug 2007

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