SINGAPORE: Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre is popular for its spread of local food, but it was only three years ago when the centre moved to its current location, as part of a makeover under the second phase of the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme.
The East Coast estate was selected for rejuvenation along with Hougang and Jurong Lake under the programme's second phase in 2011.
Located beside the Bedok train station, the centre is often crowded, even on weekdays. The 70-stall food centre now boasts more seats for diners, cashless payment options and even free Wi-Fi.
Over the last six years, the estate has undergone a progressive transformation to become a "gateway to the East Coast". A key plank of the estate's renewal is the rejuvenation of Bedok Town Centre, with completed projects such as Bedok Mall - which is connected to an integrated transport hub - and a town plaza with a heritage corner, where residents can learn about Bedok's history.
G. K. Murthy stall assistant K Santhi, who has been working at her father's drink stall since she was a 15-year-old student, recalled the hawker centre's previous home at Block 207. "Last time, (the centre was) very small and narrow, no space to sit," she said. "Now (it's) open space."
A long-time resident, who has been living in Bedok for almost 40 years, agreed: "Now (it) is very clean, and so many people like to eat here. I always come here to makan, even breakfast or lunch."
Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre. (Photo: Wendy Wong)
Named by residents, the Bedok Town Square is the first of the Housing Development Board's (HDB) new-generation town plazas to be built.
Around 1,000 residents were roped in to share suggestions for its use in a visioning exercise organised by the local town plaza activation team, with suggestions such as outdoor movie screenings, mass exercise activities and performances. The town plaza has held 32 community events since its launch last May.
“Some activities they organise here are easier for us as more customers can buy drinks,” said stall assistant K Muthu. “(It’s) more comfortable here, (with) very fresh air.”
BETTER ACCESSIBILITY FOR ELDERLY RESIDENTS
Bedok's pedestrian mall has also been enhanced with better connectivity and accessibility to amenities - something which its elderly residents appreciate.
"Now, you have the ramps connecting to all these amenities. They are all elderly-friendly, handicap-friendly, where those on wheelchairs and motorised ramps can go practically every spot in the central part here," said 70-year-old retiree John Cheong.
"Forty years ago, if you want to go to these facilities you have to take a bus downtown, even for shopping maybe we have to go down to Orchard and all that, but now shopping is just right at our doorstep," Mr Cheong said.
"We come down already we got a shopping mall. And then all the eateries are all nearby, walking distance - within five, 10 minutes can have all these facilities," he added.
Upcoming projects in the pipeline include the Bedok Integrated Complex, which will house facilities such as Bedok Sports Centre, Bedok Public Library and Bedok Polyclinic, among others. The complex will be completed in the third quarter of this year.
The upcoming Bedok Integrated Complex, which will be completed by the third quarter of 2017. (Photo: Wendy Wong)
Residents can also look forward to better connectivity within the estate, with the completion of an internal cycling network within the Bedok and East Coast area connecting train stations, schools and neighbourhood centres, as well as an Outdoor Play Corridor, which will provide cycling and pedestrian paths linking Bedok Reservoir and East Coast Park.
The upgrading of eight neighbourhood centres beyond the town centre are also in the works, with two completed so far and the rest slated for completion by 2019.
To preserve the estate’s history, a heritage trail highlighting the stories of East Coast was designed. And in January, a mobile app featuring self-guided interactive trails for Bedok town was launched for residents to learn more about the history and landmarks of the estate.
More than 250,000 residents have benefited from the renewal efforts over the past six years.