15,000 To 20,000 Public And Private Homes Planned For Bukit Timah Turf City Site Over Next 20 To 30 Years

An artist's impression of the view from the North Grandstand. (Image: Urban Redevelopment Authority)

About 15,000 to 20,000 public and private homes are planned for a new housing estate at Turf City in Bukit Timah over the next 20 to 30 years, announced Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Thursday (May 23). 

This is the first time in almost 40 years that public housing has been planned in Bukit Timah, he added. 

“This is to meet the growing aspirations among Singaporeans to live closer to their workplaces in the city.” 

According to the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) website, there are about 2,500 flats in Bukit Timah. 

The Turf City estate will be car-lite, pedestrian-friendly, and well-served by public transport, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in a separate press release. 

The 176-hectare site was home to Singapore’s second racecourse from 1933 to 1999, until the Singapore Turf Club relocated to Kranji, noted Mr Lee. 

The site has been largely zoned for residential use since 1998, but was leased out for lifestyle and recreational use until the end of 2023, he added.

The government is planning for 10-minute neighbourhoods, which means that most amenities will be located within a 10-minute walk away.

“These amenities will also be located close to the MRT stations to maximize convenience for all, including for existing residents who live nearby,” he added. 

Assessments on the heritage and environmental impacts were conducted in conjunction with heritage and nature groups respectively, said the National Development Minister. 

With its history as one of Singapore’s racecourses, the heritage impact assessment recommended retaining and repurposing significant buildings. 

Twenty-seven buildings and structures that represent “different facets” of the Singapore Turf Club’s history will be studied for retention and repurposing, said Mr Lee. 

One example is the North Grandstand, which was completed in the 1980s. A new central open space in front of the grandstands, about twice the size of the Padang, will be the centrepiece of the estate, he added. 

The new open space will be oval-shaped, referencing the geometry of the historic racetracks, and is intended for sports and recreational use, said URA in the press release. 

The new oval open space, estate, future neighbourhoods and public spaces all need to be named, said Mr Lee, inviting members of the public to send in their suggestions. 

Four neighbourhoods with working names have been proposed for the estate, featuring new public spaces integrated with existing heritage buildings. 

For example, the Racecourse neighbourhood will be anchored around the grandstand and the new oval open space. Residents there can look forward to recreational spaces and sports facilities within a five-minute walk to the upcoming Cross Island Line MRT Station, which is slated to open in 2032

The Saddle Club Knolls neighbourhood will be defined by “undulating terrain and surrounding forests”. 

The former Bukit Timah Saddle Club Clubhouse and Fairway Quarters buildings at 51 Fairways Drive and 53 Fairways Drive could be repurposed for this area, URA said in the press release. 

The Stables Commune neighbourhood will be located along Dunearn Road, and the formers workers quarters and stables will house small-scale lifestyle offerings. The Tinggi Hills neighbourhood will be situated at the foothills of Bukit Tinggi, within former golf course land. 

The Bukit Timah Turf City estate will be served by Sixth Avenue Station on the Downtown Line and another station on the upcoming Cross Island Line, with residents expected to be within 800m or a 10-minute walk from an MRT station, complemented by buses, said URA in the press release.  

The estate will be developed progressively, starting with areas closing to existing transport nodes along Dunearn Road. 

In feedback sessions, residents living nearby had concerns about traffic, said Mr Lee. 

To accommodate anticipated traffic from future developments, road improvement works will be rolled out at Dunearn Road, Bukit Timah Road and Eng Neo Avenue. Agencies are also studying the technical feasibility and environmental impact of implementing a new exit ramp from the PIE towards Tuas, said URA in the press release. 

The government also received feedback about the potential height of the proposed developments, said the National Development Minister. 

“Building heights will be kept lower where they are closer to key heritage buildings, green spaces as well as existing low-rise housing areas, while those more centrally located and nearer the MRT stations will be built higher to optimise land and enable more people to enjoy the convenience of living close to key transport nodes,” he added. 

The environmental impact assessment found 177 plant species and 25 animal species of conservation significance, including the globally threatened straw-headed bulbul and Sunda pangolin. Many of these species were found in Eng Neo Avenue Forest and Bukit Tinggi. 

The study recommended retaining these two forested areas and connecting them, the press release read. 

Most of Eng Neo Avenue Forest and Bukit Tinggi will be retained, and a new 100-m wide planted connection will be established between the two habitats, said URA in the press release. 

“In total, about one-third of the Bukit Timah Turf City estate will be set aside for green spaces, comprising parks, open spaces as well as natural greenery,” said Mr Lee. – CNA

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