Development Plans for Ulu Pandan Balance Nature Conservation and Housing Needs
Sizeable nature park will be safeguarded in western half of Ulu Pandan, while
eastern half will be developed for public housing nestled in greenery
Following the public consultation earlier this year, the conceptual development plans for Ulu Pandan have been revised. Residents of Ulu Pandan can look forward to a sizeable nature park in the western part of their estate. Development plans for the western half of Ulu Pandan will also be put off in the medium term and reviewed again in about 10 years’ time. The nature park will allow Ulu Pandan west, which is richer in biodiversity, to serve as a stepping-stone for ecological connectivity. The nature park will also form part of an ecological connection to enhance connectivity from Clementi Forest to the Southern Ridges. The eastern half of Ulu Pandan will be developed for public housing, to meet the strong housing demand in mature estates, including from young families who want to live near their parents in the area for better mutual care and support. The new public housing projects, the first of which is expected to be launched in the second half of 2022, will be sensitively designed to weave in greenery and incorporate the blue elements in the area such as the Ulu Pandan Canal and a natural stream. A wide range of new commercial and recreational amenities could also be developed, to serve the needs of existing and future residents in the vicinity.
2 These developments are part of the revised conceptual plans for Ulu Pandan, incorporating feedback from the public, local stakeholders including Mr Christopher De Souza, as well as engagements with nature groups over a few sessions since last year.
3 Located in the mature estate of Queenstown, Ulu Pandan has been earmarked for residential development in URA’s Master Plan since 2003. Rubber plantations, fruit orchards and kampungs once occupied the site, but these were vacated and abandoned by the 1980s. Over time, the site has become a vegetated area and overgrown with non-native trees.
4 The land parcel adjacent to the Ulu Pandan site, was developed as an extension of the Ghim Moh estate between 2008 and 2017 to meet housing needs. These developments took place within the last ten years, and are the present-day Ghim Moh Valley and Ghim Moh Edge housing precincts. They are separated by a small road, Ghim Moh Link, from the remaining, larger undeveloped site.
The 33-ha Ulu Pandan estate as edged in red is bounded by Commonwealth Avenue West, Ghim Moh Link, Ulu Pandan Canal and Clementi Road
5 The public housing development plans for Ulu Pandan was first announced in Dec 2020. Prior to this, HDB had engaged an external consultant to conduct an Environmental Baseline Study (EBS). The study aimed to better understand the existing topography, flora, fauna and hydrology, and guide HDB’s development plans in a way that would mitigate the potential environmental impact. The key findings of the EBS were as follows:
6 Following the conclusion of the EBS, HDB had engaged nature groups to refine the plans for Ulu Pandan, incorporating the findings from the EBS. The EBS report was published on HDB’s InfoWEB from 20 Dec 2020 to 16 Jan 2021 for public feedback, and subsequently extended by another 4 weeks from 1 Feb to 1 Mar 2021. In total, HDB received around 1,800 responses. The respondents provided a wide range of suggestions. Some viewed that housing should not be built in the area and called for the site to be fully retained for greenery and recreation, while others suggested that greenery with ecological significance could be conserved and part of the site developed to provide public housing for young couples to meet continued demand. There were also suggestions to build more parks and facilities along Ulu Pandan Canal, and to naturalise the canal. More details on the feedback received are available on the HDB InfoWEB1.
7 Based on the findings from the EBS, as well as subsequent feedback from nature groups and the public, HDB has revised our urban planning and design strategies for Ulu Pandan, taking a holistic and science-based approach to balance development and nature conservation. The revised conceptual plans also take into consideration the findings from NParks’ Ecological Profiling Exercise (EPE)2, which showed that an ecological connection could be established in the Clementi-Ulu Pandan area to complement the connectivity from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to the Southern Ridges, through Ulu Pandan.
8 Considering feedback and its comparatively richer biodiversity, the western half of the Ulu Pandan site (after Dover MRT station to Clementi Road), will be retained as it is in the medium term. Agencies will continue to study and revisit the plans for the site sometime around 2030, taking into consideration Singapore’s land use needs at that time.
9 In the meantime, agencies are working towards safeguarding a sizeable nature park within the western half of the Ulu Pandan site. The park will serve as an ecological connector and habitat between Clementi Forest and the Southern Ridges. This nature park will also complement the connectivity along the Rail Corridor in the vicinity of Ulu Pandan, which is one of the two ecological corridors identified in NParks’ EPE. Agencies are studying the optimal size and boundary of the nature park, and will subsequently work with the community to carry out forest restoration and habitat enhancement works, to strengthen the area’s ecological resilience.
10 The eastern half of Ulu Pandan (from Ghim Moh Link to Dover MRT station) will be developed from 2022, to meet the strong housing demand in mature estates, including from young families who want to live near their parents in the area for better mutual care and support.
11 In recent years, demand for new HDB flats has risen, with the overall number of applications received per Build-to-Order (BTO) flat increasing from 2.3 in 2017 to 5.8 in 2020. In particular, application rates in mature estates increased from 2.8 times in 2017 to 6.7 times in 2020, indicating a continued preference amongst flat buyers for flats in mature estates. The overall strong public housing demand is driven by more Singaporean marriages over the past decade, larger cohorts of people born in the late 1980s and 1990s as they reach marriageable age, as well as the growing trend of smaller and single-person households.
12 The last BTO development in the vicinity, Ghim Moh Edge, was launched in Nov 2012 and completed in 2017. Over the past 8 years, HDB has received feedback from residents whose children hope to live in the area. This is aligned to HDB’s data showing that more married couples and elderly are preferring to stay near to their families for better mutual care and support.
13 In meeting the housing demand, HDB has sought to first make good use of any available brownfield sites in the vicinity. One example is the vacant plot of land along Ghim Moh Road, which previously housed HDB blocks that have since been relocated under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme. However, this site is already planned for public housing development in 2022, while the remaining sites in the vicinity have been safeguarded for other uses. As there are no other available brownfield sites around the Ulu Pandan area that can be developed for public housing in the immediate term to meet the strong public housing demand, the eastern half of Ulu Pandan will be developed to meet housing needs and provide options for those who want to live in the area.
14 In addition to the nature park in the west, we are proposing to set aside approximately 5 hectares of greenery on the eastern side of the site and along the canal for park and recreational use.
Conceptual Plan for the Ulu Pandan site (plan to be updated)
a. Conserve 5 hectares of greenery
15 In addition to the nature park in the west, we are proposing to set aside for park and recreational use approximately 5 hectares of greenery on the eastern side of the site and along the canal. This could comprise a linear park along the Ulu Pandan Canal and a park with natural stream on the eastern side of the site. This would be a five-fold increase from the 0.9 hectares of greenery gazetted in URA’s Master Plan 2019.
b. Establish a Green Corridor
16 We are also proposing to establish a Green Corridor, measuring up to 40 metres wide at some stretches, along Ulu Pandan Canal, to serve as an ecological corridor to facilitate wildlife movement such as the Grey Heron and Asian Softshell Turtle moving along Sungei Ulu Pandan. The Green Corridor could comprise a linear park with a wider Park Connector, landscaped precinct green spaces within the public housing parcels, and the landscaped portion of the Ulu Pandan Canal. Lush, multi-tiered and naturalistic landscaping would enhance the ecological connectivity along the canal. Besides supporting wildlife, the corridor would also offer conducive spaces for residents and members of the public to engage in recreational and leisure activities, as suggested by some respondents to the EBS.
Green Corridor along Ulu Pandan Canal
c. Transform Ulu Pandan Canal
17 The Ulu Pandan Canal will be upgraded to enhance flood protection in the area. There are plans to introduce Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters features at some stretches in tandem with the upgrading of the canal. These enhancements will be seamlessly integrated with the adjacent future developments in our conceptual plan, such as the linear park and landscaped precinct green spaces within the housing parcels. This would improve the overall experience along the Ulu Pandan Canal and Park Connector, benefiting future residents as well as existing residents living in the vicinity and visitors.
d. Retain Natural Stream in the East
18 HDB is proposing to retain an existing natural stream with a 20-metre wide riparian buffer on both sides of the stream on the eastern part of the site. Based on the EBS findings, this stream has valuable bank quality which offers an ideal habitat for aquatic biodiversity.
e. Create Lower-rise Housing Zone Along the Canal
19 The new housing developments will be designed sensitively to respond to the surroundings. For example, the housing blocks fronting the Ulu Pandan Canal will be stepped down and lower than the rest of the housing developments, so as to create a more conducive living environment and maximise views to the canal.
Lower-rise housing along the Ulu Pandan Canal
20 To promote green living, HDB will adopt strategies under the Biophilic Town Framework to integrate nature with the urban environment. High-, mid- and ground level greenery will be interwoven into the developments, bringing nature right to residents’ doorsteps so that they can enjoy a greater sense of place, health and well-being. Given its excellent rail and bus connectivity, the precinct will also be designed to be car-lite.
21 Water-sensitive urban design, including elements such as rain gardens and bio-swales, will also be integrated with the new housing precincts. In addition, we will introduce planting to enhance the ecological value of the precincts (e.g. wildlife-attracting plants) where possible.
22 To serve the needs of existing and future residents in Ulu Pandan, HDB will develop a new commercial node next to the Dover MRT station. This will provide a wide range of commercial and recreational amenities such as shops and eateries for residents. We will also work with authorities to enhance the connectivity and barrier-free accessibility to Dover MRT station for residents’ convenience. When completed, this will benefit both new and existing residents in the area, enhancing transport connectivity and bringing more amenities and a wide range of retail offerings closer to their homes
New commercial node next to Dover MRT station to provide convenience to residents
23 Dr Shawn Lum, Senior Lecturer at the Nanyang Technological University’s Asian School of the Environment, and President of the Nature Society (Singapore) said, “The planned development at Ulu Pandan has been designed and refined over many iterations and after extensive consultation with academics, nature enthusiasts, and other stakeholders. The development sets new standards for the integration of natural habitats and greenery into a housing development – both public and private –in Singapore.”
24 HDB recognises the ecological importance of the Ulu Pandan site. In developing the site, a specialist Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan (EMMP) consultant will be engaged to develop an EMMP which will mitigate and manage any potential environmental impact arising from the infrastructure works, and closely monitor the works from start to end.
25 To support the housing needs and meet the aspirations of current and future generations of Singaporeans, HDB will continue to take a holistic and sustainable approach when planning for new developments, and respond sensitively to the site context and its surrounding areas.
1 HDB’s report on the public feedback received and plans for the Ulu Pandan site can be viewed on the HDB InfoWEB (under the “Planning with the environment in mind” section).
2 Please refer to NParks’ press release on a New Clementi Nature Corridor for more details.