Tiong Bahru rezoning: Formalising commercial status of shops could make estate even noisier, say residents

Tiong Bahru rezoning: Formalising commercial status of shops could make estate even noisier, say residents

Toa payoh estate
Generic photo of Tiong Bahru estate. (Photo: Amir Yusof)  

SINGAPORE: As the sun began to set in Tiong Bahru estate on Tuesday evening (Jul 24), a resident living in an apartment along Seng Poh Lane quickly shut her door and windows and drew the blinds.

For the seven years she's lived in the estate, the resident - a lady in her 40s - has not been able to enjoy the evening breeze from the comfort of her home.

The reason? Dinner crowds at the famous zi char eatery less than 50 metres from her home.

“I can’t stand the noise. I get home from work to get some rest, and every day people come and go from that shop until (it's) late,” said the resident, who declined to reveal her name.

“Now that they’re officially (a commercial unit), it just legitimises the noise they are making,” she added.

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Por Kee Eating House, a zi char restaurant, is typically crowded on evenings during dinner. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

The zi char place she was referring to - Por Kee Eating House - will soon have its commercial status in Tiong Bahru secured, after the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced on Tuesday the rezoning of land use for 28 sites in the estate.

The 28 ground-floor units, including Ting Heng Seafood Restaurant and Nimble Knead Massage, were previously classified as “Residential”. After the rezoning, they will be classified as "Residential with Commercial at First Storey"

URA said the move reinforces its commitment to support the vibrant landscape in Tiong Bahru, and was made after a two-year study and feedback from the community.

However, some residents in the area are worried that officially recognising the commercial status of these shops - which have been operating their businesses based on approvals given by agencies over the past decades - will only increase the already large crowds in the estate, particularly after office hours and on the weekends.  

Another resident in the area who declined to be named, told Channel NewsAsia that she communicated her concerns to URA during a focus group session earlier this year, but that there were no follow-ups from the authority.

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Apparel retailer Nana and Bird at Tiong Bahru. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

“I told them that there were some businesses that will actually help residents, but other business will not. I don’t want to be specific but there are some places that aren’t good here,” said the resident, who owns an apparel shop on Yong Siak Street, also in Tiong Bahru.

Meanwhile, a resident at Eng Wat Street, who requested to be known only as Mr Teo, told Channel NewsAsia that some of the businesses that will be granted commercial status tend to draw large crowds on the weekends. He added that some of their customers park at lots reserved for residents.

“I don’t want to name names, but there’s a massage place and a famous café nearby. They’re crowded on weekends, and I’m fine with that, but these people cannot be parking in the reserved lots,” said Mr Teo.  

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The carpark spaces along Eng Wat Street are usually taken up on weekends. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

“The residents lots are in red while the visitor lots are in white … Sometimes I’m forced to wait up to 20 minutes just to park near my home,” he added.

However, Ms Adeline, who works at pop-up shoe shop Another Sole on Eng Hoon Street, told Channel NewsAsia that commercialising spaces in the area is a positive move for residents as they can benefit from the stores located "a stones’ throw" from their homes.

“There are so many good cafes in the area, places to eat. The kind of businesses here are not the ones that encourage smoking and littering,” she said.

According to Ms Adeline, Another Sole has not been classified as a commercial unit by URA because customers are not able to purchase the physical goods from the shop; the pop-up store allows visitors to browse and subsequently purchase their desired items online.

“We don’t sell anything, and we don’t really inconvenient any residents, although we’re operating just below a few houses. We want to continue our work here,” she said.  

Source: CNA/am