HDB unveils landscape masterplan to spruce up Dawson estate

Ng Jun Sen
The Straits Times
Dec 18, 2016

SINGAPORE – Residents at the Dawson estate in Queenstown can soon look forward to living in a park-like environment, the Housing Board revealed in its first landscape master plan on Sunday (Dec 18).

The plan, which took a year to complete, will link the seven Dawson housing projects together in a series of green spaces and pathways, forming a scenic nature-centric neighbourhood.

Two HDB projects, SkyVille @ Dawson and SkyTerrace @ Dawson, were completed in 2015, while five more projects will be completed by 2020, adding a further 5,000 households to the estate.

The seven developments may look different as each has its own project consultant, but they will have to emphasise biodiversity and enhance the neighbourhood’s identity, environmental sustainability and connectivity in accordance to the master plan.

Speaking to reporters at SkyVille, HDB’s director for landscape and design Brian Low Lip Chee said that much effort was put into maintaining the ecological balance of the area.

For example, more than 60 species of mature trees are preserved in their original locations, while planners will also add a further 4,700 new trees of about 100 different species to the area.

HDB consulted arborists on tree protection measures during the design and construction process.

Meanwhile, hardy plants that require minimal maintenance are used to lend the area a natural feel, he added.

Said Mr Low: “We’ve taken on a more naturalised approach, in contrast to having a very manicured garden. We are trying to mimic nature, in a way.”

Besides tree planting, HDB is building a 200-metre long Dawson Community Eco-corridor (DCE) on top of an old 10-metre wide stretch of Margaret Drive.

The eco-corridor, due in 2020, will feature a pedestrian street with pockets of seating beneath shady trees and is meant to be a homage to the nearby Forest Hill nature catchment area.

The existing Alexandra Canal Linear Park – a 1.3km stretch that weaves through Dawson and is part of the park connector system – will also be improved with new playgrounds and story boards displaying Dawson’s history.

“The idea was to have greenery link all the projects together seamlessly, so that people can enjoy the facilities together,” said Mr Low.

HDB also intends to implement similar concepts and ideas in other towns and estates, including Bidadari, he added.

Many residents who will stay in the new Dawson sites will come from the nearby Tanglin Halt neighbourhood, where HDB carried out its largest selective en-bloc redevelopment scheme to date.

In 2014, then-National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the Dawson flats “with greenery at its doorstep and panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas” will provide attractive new homes for the Tanglin Halt residents.

At Tanglin Halt, residents told The Straits Times that they are happy to be moving to an estate with ample greenery.

But nothing can replace the wild-grown “Greenway”, the site of the now-defunct Malaysian railway, that snakes behind their estate, said resident Mr Ahmad Zulfakar.

The 40-year-old former auditor and now retiree, frequently takes walks there and even tends to a patch of banana trees and herbs near the greenway and his home.

He recalled: “The neighbours here all also grow their own chiku and mango, and we used to trade them around after a harvest.

“I will have to adjust when I move to Dawson, but I will miss this place when it’s gone.”