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Jurong to get jolt of green with Lake Gardens

SINGAPORE — Decades of development had transformed Jurong from a collection of swamps into a vibrant hub in the west. Now, the makeover of the area is set to continue, with the creation of the Jurong Lake Gardens.

SINGAPORE — Decades of development had transformed Jurong from a collection of swamps into a vibrant hub in the west. Now, the makeover of the area is set to continue, with the creation of the Jurong Lake Gardens.

The Japanese Garden and the Chinese Garden will be integrated with the Jurong Lake Park into a “beautiful set of gardens in the heartlands”, and it could eventually be connected to the islandwide park connector network and the Jurong River.

Speaking at the National Day Rally yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Japanese and Chinese gardens are dated and under-utilised.

Under the Jurong Lake District plan launched in 2008, the Jurong Gateway precinct developed into a buzzing commercial district with shopping malls such as Westgate and the setting up of the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability, the national Continuing Education and Training campus in the west.

The 700-bed Ng Teng Fong General Hospital was also slated to serve the healthcare needs of residents living in the west by December, but Mr Lee revealed that this would be pushed back by about six months due to construction delays.

There is more to Jurong than shopping malls and industry, said Mr Lee, as he outlined plans for the Lakeside precinct of Jurong Lake District, which spans more than 220ha of land and 70ha of water areas.

Beyond the plans to merge the gardens, the Government plans to build more Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in the north of the precinct and down south around Pandan Reservoir, when industrial leases there run out over the next 20 to 30 years.

The Gardens will house the new Science Centre Singapore next to Chinese Garden MRT Station, expected to be ready in 2020. The new site will allow the centre to integrate with the natural environment around Jurong Lake.

The public will be invited to submit ideas for Jurong Lake Gardens next year. When completed, it will be maintained by community gardeners from all parts of Singapore. “The Jurong Lake Gardens can be something special,” Mr Lee said.

He acknowledged that averting traffic problems in the area is crucial for this ambitious transformation. “Those of you familiar with the area might be thinking, all these sound good, but right now, there are so many traffic jams. We are working on it.”

Over the next two years, the capacity of the North-South and East-West MRT lines will be increased. New MRT lines such as the Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Line — targeted for completion by 2025 and 2030, respectively — will also improve public access to the area.

In the long term, the Ayer Rajah Expressway may also be shifted southwards to make room for more lakeside housing, Mr Lee said, adding that the Government is in talks with the Malaysian authorities on the possibility of siting the Singapore terminus of the proposed high-speed rail link with Kuala Lumpur in Jurong East.

Property analysts whom TODAY spoke to felt the Jurong Lake Gardens would enhance the living environment, but said property values should not see an immediate spike. “The image of Jurong has transformed from a grey industrial area into a greener, more residential district. These changes are gradual and their effects will take time,” said Mr Nicholas Mak, head of consultancy and research at SLP International Property Consultants.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive officer of real estate agency Century 21 Singapore, felt the integration of the gardens may not be sufficient to improve the living environment or attractiveness of the location. More recreation and dining options, such as water-skiing, al fresco restaurants and free parking, could be introduced, he suggested.

“What was shared during the rally is simply an general update to what was already announced in 2008. Prices won’t change until we know of more concrete plans,” he added.

Members of Parliament (MP) for Jurong welcomed the plans, but were concerned about supporting infrastructure. “Public transport is key, be it roads, trains or buses. I think we really need to look at that so we don’t get into a bind,” said MP David Ong.

Ms Charlene Chia, who lives two bus stops from Lakeside MRT Station, welcomed the idea of having a large community garden, as HDB flat residents do not usually have space to do gardening.

“If the new Gardens have areas for people to maintain their own patches, it will definitely attract more residents,” said the 23-year-old. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAURA PHILOMIN

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