Channel NewsAsia

Congested roads, factory pollution obstacles to transforming Jurong: Analysts

Jurong could potentially emulate idyllic places like East Coast and Punggol, but the area will need a lot of redesign, analysts say.

SINGAPORE: The makeover of Jurong, complete with a scenic new garden and waterfront residential housing, could potentially be a big draw, but urban planners will have their work cut out to fully transform the area and cast off its industrial image, analysts said.

As the Government on Monday (Aug 18) announced that the first phase of the Jurong Lake Gardens project – the Jurong Lake Park– will be completed by 2017, the analysts noted that with its water bodies, the area could emulate idyllic places such as East Coast and Punggol. However, obstacles to achieving this include the congested public transport infrastructure as well as pollution from petrochemical plants on Jurong Island nearby, they said.

Writing on his blog, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan acknowledged that the “exciting” plans for Jurong, including major improvements to the transportation networks, would take years to realise.

DESTINATION PARKS

The Jurong Lake Park was originally planned in 2012 as one of three “Destination Parks” to attract Singaporeans across the island with its unique features. Construction has started at one of the parks, East Coast Park, and will last until 2016.

The third park, Admiralty Park, is currently “at the consultancy stage” and will be completed by 2016 as well, said the National Parks Board. The revamp of Jurong will include the integration of the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden and the Jurong Lake Park into the Jurong Lake Gardens.

New public housing developments around Pandan Reservoir is also on the cards. The Urban Redevelopment Authority said the conceptual idea will require detailed planning and technical studies. Currently, a mix of industrial offices, commercial buildings and Housing and Development Board flats line the area around the reservoir.

Analysts said that while housing prices in the Pandan Reservoir area might not be able to match those of waterfront housing in other parts of Singapore, such as Punggol and East Coast, developers will still be drawn to opportunities in the land around the reservoir.

POLLUTION, CONGESTION WORRIES

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of consultancy and research at SLP International Property Consultants, said high-rise housing could be built there. Noting that the area has no coastal park, he said: “I think it can potentially be like East Coast, but it will also need a lot of redesign.”

However, the analysts said Pandan Reservoir’s appeal could be affected by pollution from petrochemical plants on Jurong Island, as well as crowded roads and train networks.

“When the wind is going in a certain direction, will it blow the smell from the chemical factories towards the residents? ... There is a possibility, depending on how near they are,” said Mr Mak.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive of Century 21 Singapore, noted that the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) is usually congested and that the East-West MRT Line has reached its maximum capacity.

New residents will end up competing with heavy vehicles on the jammed streets, he added, suggesting that the AYE be widened or MRT lines be extended to the area.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia