1,600 HDB flats to be built in Farrer Park, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

1,600 HDB flats to be built in Farrer Park

Around 1,600 new Housing Board flats will be built on a 10ha site in Farrer Park, and integrated with sports and recreational facilities including a new sports centre.

The Build-To-Order (BTO) projects will be launched for sale within three years, HDB, Sport Singapore and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced on Monday (April 25) as the agencies unveiled plans for the site.

The site, about the size of 19 football fields, is bounded by Dorset Road, Keng Lee Road, Hampshire Road and Race Course Road. It is also near Little India and Farrer Park MRT stations, as well as Tekka Market and KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

In a nod to the area's rich sporting heritage, about 20 per cent of the site will be set aside as open spaces for sports and recreational uses, including a 1.2ha central green space comprising a field and a park.

The agencies said the former boxing gym building - the former training ground for the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association - will be retained and converted to a multi-purpose community sporting space. It will be integrated with one of the housing developments.

"Agencies will ensure that works to the building will capture the architectural character and retain key features of the building," the statement said.

The estate's multi-storey carpark will be designed so that its ground floor can be set aside for sporting facilities.

Other facilities include fitness corners and three-generation playgrounds that provide play areas for children and exercise stations for the elderly.

A jogging track weaving through the estate will connect the various facilities.

The housing developments will also have new commercial and social communal facilities, such as precinct shops and a childcare centre.

However, the Farrer Park Swimming Complex will not be retained despite earlier plans to keep the facility.

Instead, a new sports centre will be built at the same location, and will have swimming pools and other sporting facilities.

"After further detailed studies, agencies have assessed that it will not be feasible to retain the swimming complex due to various technical considerations," the agencies said.

The retained boxing gym (in yellow) will be converted to a community sports facility. PHOTO: HOUSING & DEVELOPMENT BOARD

In particular, the existing pool shows signs of ground settlement issues, they noted.

The pool filtration and underground piping system are dated and in need of complete overhaul to ensure the quality of the pool facilities, they added.

The agencies had taken suggestions from the Friends of Farrer Park group, members of the heritage community, sports community as well as residents in the area, on retaining the area's sporting identity.

Redeveloping brownfield sites such as Farrer Park, where possible, will enable Singapore to meet the evolving needs of its people, while optimising the country's limited land, the agencies said.

"The rejuvenation of Farrer Park will bring in new residents, and also attract new users to the park and sporting facilities, thus serving the needs of the wider community while retaining the heritage and significance of Farrer Park," they added. 

The agencies said they will continue to work with stakeholders to enhance the character and identity of the estate, possibly by weaving in elements of Farrer Park's sporting history into the upcoming sports facilities, as well as through thematic playgrounds and motifs.

More details will be announced when ready, they added.

Farrer Park was where footballers, as well as athletes from other sports such as track and field, tennis, rugby, hockey, squash and tennis, would gather. Many athletes were saddened about Farrer Park's transformation and had called for the area's sporting heritage to be retained.

Farrer Park became Singapore’s unofficial sports hub from the 1940s through to the 1980s. Facilities there included the Farrer Park Athletics Centre built in 1956, the Farrer Park Swimming Complex which was opened in 1957, as well as a boxing gym and eight tennis courts.

Farrer Park field on April 25. Farrer Park became Singapore’s unofficial sports hub from the 1940s through to the 1980s. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Former national swimmer Ang Peng Siong, the world’s fastest freestyler over 50m in 1982, had called Farrer Park the birthplace of sports. He grew up in the area and used to run APS Swim School at the Farrer Park Swimming Complex.

The area was also the training and competition centre for several prominent local athletes, including former national sprinter Glory Barnabas. She won two gold, three silver and three bronze medals at the South-east Asian Peninsular (Seap) Games in 1967, 1969 and 1973.

Former national athlete Natahar Bava had also trained at Farrer Park and won sprint and relay silvers and bronzes at the Seap Games and Asian Games between 1965 and 1968. He then coached the national rugby team there from 1976 to 1980.

In 2018, a petition by Friends of Farrer Park called on the government to conserve the sporting heritage of the area.

Residents and athletes celebrated when URA’s Draft Master Plan 2019 stated that Farrer Park’s swimming pool and former boxing gym would be retained.

Secretary Peggy Chua, 48, has been living in Farrer Park for about 18 years. The Farrer Park Swimming Complex was where she learnt swimming at six years old, and when her son turned that age, she enrolled him into APS Swim School there. He is now 15.

“This place carries many good memories for me and I’m excited to see the future of the estate. I’m looking forward to swim or use the gym at the new sports centre,” Ms Chua said.

Mr Douglas Ng, 31, who runs noodle stall Fishball Story in Circuit Road, takes his three-year-old son to the Farrer Park field about three times a week.

“My son likes to run around the field and I’ve been teaching him how to kick the football. There are not many places in Singapore with open fields this big,” he said.

“I’m glad the new estate will have open spaces so my son and I can continue to play soccer. I hope many sports activities will be held here so the community can come together and build close bonds.”