The Ulu Pandan BTO project is designed sensitively to minimise impact on the environment and, where possible, to incorporate nature to improve residents' way of living.
As part of the new generation of HDB homes, the developments in Ulu Pandan estate will weave in green and blue elements such as nature and waterbodies into the housing landscape, including retaining a natural stream. Blocks will have sky terraces - communal garden spaces provided at the selected level of buildings - roof gardens and even a terraced rain garden.
The Ulu Pandan housing estate will have about 5ha of greenery, including a 1.2ha park that will retain most of its original flora and fauna and an existing natural stream. The blocks facing Ulu Pandan Canal will be low-rise, while those closer to Commonwealth Avenue West will be high-rise. The Ulu Pandan BTO estate located close to Dover MRT will have a commercial node nearby that can provide amenities such as shops, supermarkets, and eateries for residents. A fitness trail will connect the terraced rain garden, roof gardens and fitness stations. Apart from that, there will be a 600m jogging track connecting three housing blocks via sky bridges on the 34th storey.
Ulu Pandan Estate - Car-lite Zone
Located in the mature estate of Queenstown, Ulu Pandan is one of four public housing estates to be zoned as car-lite areas, which are planned with public transport, walking and cycling connections. The number of carparks will also be reduced to free up space for public facilities and greenery. Parking spaces will be prioritised for residents.
To ensure pedestrians' safety, vehicular roads will be located at the perimeter of the precincts, segregated from the main pedestrian walkway with a comprehensive network of walking and cycling paths, providing residents with seamless connectivity to the neighbourhood centre and key amenities in Ghim Moh via the Park Connector Network. Residents will also enjoy sheltered elevated linkways connecting them directly to Dover MRT station and barrier-free accessibility to bus stops along Commonwealth Avenue.
Recently in May, HDB launched two BTO projects under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model: Bukit Merah Ridge in Bukit Merah estate and Ghim Moh Ascent in Ghim Moh estate.
Bukit Merah Ridge PLH BTO project is bounded by Bukit Merah View, Henderson Road, Tiong Bahru Road, and Lower Delta Road. The development comprises five residential blocks ranging from 29 to 48 storeys in height, and is offered under the PLH model. Bukit Merah Ridge takes its name from the nearby Southern Ridges, which can be seen from the development. Inspired by the greenery at Telok Blangah Hill Park, Mount Faber Park, and the nearby Tiong Bahru Park, Bukit Merah Ridge features lush landscaping and roof gardens. Flat buyers can choose from 1,669 units of 3- and 4- room flats.
Ghim Moh Ascent PLH BTO is bounded by Ghim Moh Road, Ghim Moh Close, and the Rail Corridor, Ghim Moh Ascent is located near Buona Vista MRT station. This development comprises four residential blocks - two blocks are 40 storeys high and the other two blocks have varying heights ranging from 8 to 31 storeys. The name ‘Ghim Moh Ascent’ references the development’s location and the staggered height of the blocks. Flat buyers can choose from 867 units of 3- and 4- room flats.
Overall, Bukit Merah Ridge had an application rate of 1.5, whilst Ghim Moh Ascent had 1.3; both were lower than the rates of PLH BTO launches at River Peaks I/II and King’s George Heights which had 3.1 and 5.8, respectively.
Looking at the total number of applications, Bukit Merah Ridge received 657 for its 443 3-room flats and 6,008 for its 1226 4-room flats, whilst Ghim Moh Ascent had 263 for its 196 3-room flats, and 2,629 for its 671 4-room flats.
A sprawling 33 hectare (330,000 sqm) of land size approximately about 46 football fields bounded by Commonwealth Avenue West, Ghim Moh Link, Ulu Pandan Canal and Clementi Road - is also where the beautiful natural green Dover Forest is located.
The Dover forest was part of rubber plantation from the 1920s to the 1940s abandoned after the 2nd World War. The half a century old secondary regrowth forest with four freshwater streams, has been relatively untouched since 1980s. embedded in Ulu Pandan estate consisting of both the western and eastern halves separated by a mowed grass lawn. Dover Forest is reported to be home to globally and locally rare and endangered species such as the straw-headed bulbul, changeable hawk-eagle, oriental pied hornbill, Pila scutata, Ficus virens, and many more.
HDB will work closely with national water agency PUB and the National Parks Board to establish a green linear corridor, measuring up to 40m wide at some stretches, along Ulu Pandan. It will serve as an ecological corridor for wildlife moving along Sungei Ulu Pandan, such as the grey heron and Asian softshell turtle - two species considered vulnerable and endangered respectively.
In 2020, the government announced plans to clear Dover Forest to develop the entire land space to satisfy Singapore's immense demand for residential homes raised concerns from environmental and nature groups sparking a hot debate over the challenging topic of balancing national development with nature conservation, especially for a small island nation with limited land space providing accommodation and infrastructure to more than 6.5 million people living on it.
After much consideration and intense discussion, the Singapore government finally decided to clear the eastern half of Dover Forest measuring around 11 hectares in size from mid of 2022 to build more public housing for Singaporeans. The western half of the site will be retained in the medium term and plans will be relooked in about a decade.
Real estate professional Kiwi Lim believe the Dover Forest BTO project may probably the most anticipated project in November's BTO launch exercise with approximately 5 mins walk to Dover MRT station and within close proximity to many schools plus the highly-coveted unblocked view, with the landed housing estate at Holland just across the Ulu Pandan Canal. More details about the project, such as flat prices and the estimated completion date, will be available only when the project is launched.
To keep public housing resale prices in check, the government's plan is to launch more BTOs to meet the strong demand for public housing in Singapore. Being a tiny island nation with more than 6.5 million people living on a small land space, the government faces an immense challenge to balance national development with nature and environmental preservation. I hope that Singapore will not one day become a concrete jungle where everything is artificial and manmade without traces of life and soul.