Saturday, September 5, 2009

Facelift for 13 more HDB estates

Residents will get big say in $86m scheme to spruce up facilities

ABOUT 23,000 households across 13 HDB estates islandwide will soon see improvements to their neighbourhoods, from new covered linkways and drop-off porches to new playgrounds and letter boxes.

The Housing Board yesterday announced the rejuvenation of these estates at a cost of $86.1 million under its Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP).

Under the scheme, residents have a big say in determining the look and feel of their estates by giving feedback to their town councils before such plans are set in stone.

For example, Tampines residents will be given three architectural designs to choose from and provide feedback on. At least 75 per cent of residents must vote for the final design in order for work to proceed.

Tampines was one of the first sites selected for the NRP exercise. Full details of the newly selected 13 sites will be announced over the next few months, said HDB.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said yesterday that the Government is committed to rejuvenating HDB estates even during times of economic uncertainty.

He noted that the number of projects selected this year is almost double the earlier batch of seven last year.

'Since the NRP was introduced... (it has) received strong support from residents, with high support levels averaging around 89 per cent,' said Mr Mah, who was at the launch of Tampines' NRP exercise last night. The event features a three-day exhibition of the designs for residents.

The NRP site launched at Tampines N9 yesterday is the largest to date, involving 38 blocks at a cost of $10 million.

The winning design will be announced at the year-end and more than 3,300 households will benefit from the improvements, said HDB.

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Home Affairs, said yesterday that the grassroots community had worked hard to get the approval for Tampines N9.

'I am excited about this collective exercise not because it is the biggest NRP in Singapore, but more importantly because of the extent of involvement of the residents in deciding their own future,' said Mr Masagos, who is also chairman of the Tampines Town Council.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced the NRP during his National Day Rally speech in August 2007. It is part of a key HDB initiative to renew middle-aged towns such as Yishun and Tampines.

Since then, 32 sites have been selected, of which 10 have carried out public consultations. The upgrading works are fully funded by the Government with no costs borne by the residents.

Public relations consultant Ng Mei Yan, 26, who just bought a five-room flat in Tampines, said she was thrilled to see the rejuvenation plans.

'It's quite timely because Tampines is quite a mature town, and it's good that we can have a say before the plans go ahead,' she added.

Source: Straits Times, 5 Sep 2009

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