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Kallang River to be transformed into recreation hub

SINGAPORE — The Kallang River, Singapore’s longest natural river that stretches from Lower Peirce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin, is set to undergo a facelift, as the authorities on Wednesday (March 29) revealed some initial ideas to build spiral ramps across the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and waterfront housing developments.

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SINGAPORE — The Kallang River, which winds through the highest number of housing estates here, is primed for dramatic changes in the next decade or more, with new waterfront homes, community sports or activity nodes, and cycling paths linking to the city centre among the transformation ideas.

With 100,000 new residential units possibly being added over the next 20 years to the 800,000 people living near the 10km-long river now, the makeover plans, when completed, will benefit residents across Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh and Kallang Bahru, among others.

Preliminary ideas for Kallang River’s facelift are now showcased at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Centre at Maxwell Road, but these are “conceptual and aspirational in nature”, and the authorities want to hear the public’s suggestions in the next year or so.

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition on Wednesday (March 29), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said there had been a dramatic change in thinking about how rivers can play a role in urban landscapes. The transformation of the Kallang River, which began with a clean-up in the mid-1980s, provides new opportunities to inject new life into the riverbanks, he added.

Efforts to spruce up Singapore’s waterfront have so far been focused on the Singapore River, Marina Bay and the Kallang Basin. The “time is ripe”, said a URA spokesperson, to start a discussion to “further rejuvenate” the Kallang River, Singapore’s longest natural river stretching from the Lower Peirce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin.

One key objective is to improve connectivity, with a 500m-long spiral ramp that loops over the 16-lane Pan-Island Expressway (near St Andrew’s Village) and new underpasses smoothening the walk, jog or cycle from Bishan to the city, among the ideas.

Kallang Bahru Road, Upper Boon Keng Road and Sims Avenue are three spots where underpasses could be built, while the existing underpass at the Central Expressway (CTE) could be widened and be better lit, or serve as a gathering or event space.

These prospective improvements would get rid of the many obstacles for users of the Kallang Park Connector, who have to use traffic crossings or overhead bridges, or scale 83 steps.

There are also ideas to redevelop the residential and industrial estates on both sides of the Kallang River, which will be served by more than 20 MRT stations when new lines are up by 2023. For instance, the Kallang Industrial Estate near Boon Keng MRT Station — made up of several smaller industrial estates at the Kallang Basin, Kallang Bahru and Kallang Avenue — could be redeveloped into a mixed-use precinct, including new industrial developments for the future economy.

Across the river, the Kallang Distripark, a private industrial estate bordered by the river, Kallang Bahru and Geylang Bahru, could be converted to a greener residential neighbourhood with waterfront parks and recreational spaces.

Further south from the Kallang Industrial Estate is the Kampong Bugis site, which Mr Wong said earlier this month would be turned into a car-lite residential precinct, including pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly paths that connect users to nearby amenities.

The 17.4ha site between the river, Crawford Street and Kallang Road has been earmarked for private residential use, with private developers given the freedom to propose a masterplan and urban design plan for the district, under a trial of a master developer concept.

On the southern end of the river, the Kallang Basin area around the Sports Hub will be turned into an inclusive sports and recreational venue. Running trails, and facilities such as a football hub and free-to-play courts, will be built around Jalan Benaan Kapal. Other ideas are to improve the waterfront areas, including ongoing works for an Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters and drainage upgrading project between Bishan and Braddell Road.

To be completed by the last quarter of next year, this 1.8km stretch will be lined with a meandering stream, planter islands, cascading waters and a rain garden, which collects and cleanses rainwater runoff before discharging it into the river. Stretches of the river can be naturalised or have wider green setbacks to increase its biodiversity. More parks or greenery could be added along the riverbanks as well.

Members of the public are also invited to share their memories and history of the Kallang River, such as the two-storey former National Aerated Water Company and the former Kallang Airport.

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