Home to Singapore’s first suburban mall, this region in the north of the island is at the cusp of revolutionising how communities live, work and play – together.
Some 23 years ago, Yishun became the talk of town when it saw the opening of the country’s first suburban mall. Fast-forward to 2015 and a new, bigger buzz is again focused on this northern region.
Yishun, which used be a farming area, is the Mandarin translation of Nee Soon, and named after tycoon and Singapore pioneer, Lim Nee Soon.
Development of the estate started in 1976 with the Yishun New Town Project. By the 1980s, Yishun was already a lively new town with purpose-built amenities, including schools, markets, places of worship, community buildings, parks, recreational activities, a bus interchange and the Yishun Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) station.
In 1992, Yishun saw the entry of Northpoint Shopping Centre by Frasers Centrepoint, the first suburban mall in Singapore. Adjacent to it, the revolutionary Yishun 10 – the first cineplex with 10 movie auditoriums – opened its doors. Together, the two completely changed the nature of the area, injecting a whole a new level of energy and interest that made it a destination of choice, drawing Singaporeans from other parts of the island.
By the 2000s, Yishun had become a middle-aged town and ripe for rejuvenation. This came in 2007, when it became one of first three towns to be selected for the Housing Board’s Remaking of Heartland exercise. The plans, ranging from widening housing choices, improving accessibility, upgrading parks and a transformation of the town centre, have since come to fruition.
One highlight is the eco- and patient-friendly Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, which marked a milestone in the history of healthcare in the area when it opened in 2010. The hospital sits right next to the spruced up Yishun Pond, whose 14.5-metre tall lookout tower, The Spiral@Yishun, offers a panoramic view of the town centre as well as easy access to the Yishun Park via an 84-metre overhead pedestrian bridge.
Today, Yishun is a thriving town with an estimated HDB resident population of 186,200. Yet, more exciting plans are afoot. The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan calls for further rejuvenation of the area, including some innovative firsts.
Over the next few years, Yishun will benefit from billions of dollars of investments in infrastructure and development, covering a wide range of issues from housing and leisure to transport and economy.
For starters, the rejuvenation of Yishun town centre will see the rise of Northpoint City – a sparkling new mall by Frasers Centrepoint that is directly connected via an underpass to Yishun MRT Station and integrated with an air-conditioned bus interchange, town plaza and community club. The latter will be the first community club to be fully air-conditioned and also the first to be located in a shopping centre.
Above Northpoint City will be the 920-unit North Park Residences, a condominium which will undoubtedly be sought after not only for its attractive location, but also its sizeable facilities spread across gardens the size of two football fields.
Meanwhile, dining options are set to grow tremendously in both variety and quantity. In the works are a new hawker centre next to Yishun Park and new eating houses, which, together with dining outlets in the upcoming Northpoint City, will make Yishun a food-haven.
Young families will welcome the increase in childcare facilities, while a foreign system school will also be developed. In addition, more healthcare services will be made available by a new community hospital, even as two new nursing homes will serve the needs of elderly residents.
In so far as outdoor leisure activities are concerned, Yishun already offers easy access to Lower Seletar Reservoir, Yishun Park and a number of smaller parks, but residents can look forward to more neighbourhood parks and green spaces coming onstream, as well as better connections between them. Add to that, the expected relocation of Jurong Bird Park to Mandai to join three other nature attractions, including the Singapore Zoo, and residents have a cluster of world-class wildlife attractions to boast of as well.
Of course, the issue of transportation is key and Yishun residents can look forward to shorter travelling times with a slew of enhancements to public transport, including the new Springleaf MRT Station along the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) and improvements to the junction of Lentor Avenue and Yishun Avenue 1 for a smoother commute. The new Yishun Avenue 8 has also recently opened and provides an alternative route to the Central, Tampines and Seletar expressways, while the widened Seletar West Link helps ease traffic flow.
In future, motorists can add the North-South Expressway (NSE) to their travel options. The NSE will connect Yishun, along with other towns along the north-south corridor, to the city centre. The expressway will also intersect and provide links to existing expressways including Seletar Expressway, Pan Island Expressway and East Coast Parkway.
Cycling enthusiasts will appreciate the extensive cycling routes planned that will give them convenient access to the town centre, MRT stations, amenities and nearby towns.
To top it off, those living in Yishun will benefit from employment opportunities in future developments close by, including industrial developments along Yishun Avenue 6 and Gambas Avenue, the expansion of the already established Seletar Aerospace Park and the upcoming North Coast Innovation Corridor beginning with Woodlands.
Naturally, the focal point in all of this is Northpoint City, which seamlessly integrates shopping, dining, community activities and transport. It represents how far a humble area full of plantations and villages has come and mirrors, in some ways, the remarkable transformation of Singapore itself.
So get ready for Yishun – reborn.