URA gazettes Bukit Timah landmarks for conservation
Former Bukit Timah Fire Station and Railway Station Staff Quarters hark back to area's kampung roots
Much of Bukit Timah's old kampung landscape has disappeared over the years as luxury properties sprang up in the area, so news that two of its old landmarks have officially been saved has been welcomed.
Yesterday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said it has gazetted the former Bukit Timah Fire Station and the former Railway Station Staff Quarters for conservation.
Conservation expert Ho Weng Hin told The Straits Times that the fire station, built in 1956, was integral in keeping kampung homes - made of combustible materials - safe from widespread blazes.
He said: "An industrial corridor along Upper Bukit Timah Road, where a mix of light industry businesses such as soya sauce factories and car workshops operated, also came under the fire station's care."
The station was Singapore's fourth after the Central Fire Station and suburban stations in Geylang and Alexandra.
A URA spokesman said the conservation helps capture some of the island's firefighting history.
She said the station provides a good representation of fire station architecture here, having been built as part of the post-war expansion of the fire service. It is also a good representation of the Modern style.
Mr Ho noted that the former Railway Station Staff Quarters - a pair of semi-detached fair-faced brick houses - serves as a reminder of Bukit Timah's once rustic setting.
The colonial authorities had built the quarters for staff as it was challenging to travel to the station for work every day, given the transport network was still in its infancy, he said.
The conservation gazettes are part of the 2019 masterplan that was formalised yesterday.
The masterplan comprises a swathe of development and revitalisation plans across the country.
Plans for the former Bukit Timah Fire Station include a new visitor centre to direct the public to surrounding nature and heritage attractions.
The former Railway Station Staff Quarters and its compound could host a small food and beverage establishment and curated gardens.
The URA spokesman said students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, led by Associate Professor Yeo Kang Shua, had carried out a research and documentation project on the former quarters and the railway station.
She said the project helped to inform the plans for the area, adding: "Currently, agencies are working to improve access to the area, to allow users of all abilities to enjoy this unique green space."
MORE CBD HOMES
Among other developments in the near future following the URA's formalisation of the masterplan 2019 are more homes to be built in the Central Business District (CBD).
The Government will give developers a higher gross plot ratio to encourage them to convert ageing offices into hotels and homes. This will apply to the Anson Road, Cecil Street, Shenton Way, Robinson Road and Tanjong Pagar areas.
There will also be more residences in areas such as Bayshore, Dakota Crescent and Farrer Park.
Singapore will also become greener with about 1,000ha more parks and park connectors.
Eventually, more than 90 per cent of households will be with-in a 10-minute walking distance, or 400m, of a park in future, while a million people will live within a kilometre of the Rail Corridor.
The corridor will run through the country, connecting Woodlands Regional Centre, which will feature a new agri-food and innovation park, to future housing in Choa Chu Kang, before running through Queenstown down to the Greater Southern Waterfront, a future mixed-use district of more than 2,000ha that will extend from Pasir Panjang to Marina East.
Up north, Changi will be connected to Lim Chu Kang via the coast through the Greater Rustic Coast - a 50km stretch that will link areas of military and industrial heritage, recreation and biodiversity.
The public was allowed to weigh in on the URA's draft masterplan, which was exhibited at its Maxwell Road premises from March to June.
The URA said yesterday that about 25,000 stakeholders and members of the public visited its draft masterplan exhibition.
More than 110,000 visitors also viewed the draft online, with its social media posts on the proposals reaching around half a million netizens.