Toa Payoh’s old dragon playground may be for keeps

Toa Payoh’s old dragon playground may be for keeps

SINGAPORE - The dragon rises out of a sand pit, inviting children to play on its slide. But the four Housing Board blocks that surround this iconic playground in Toa Payoh are all but empty, and set to be demolished later this year.

The question is whether the dragon playground, one of the oldest in Singapore, will go with them. Out of Blocks 28, 30, 32 and 33 in Toa Payoh Lorong 5/6, only the first is still occupied. Just three households remain.

After they move out this month, the blocks will be redeveloped for new residences. The demolition is expected to take up to nine months.

Ms Catherine Santanaswamy, 36, is one of the last remaining tenants. She has been living on the 12th floor with her brother for the last year. She said they would be moving to their new Punggol flat tomorrow.

"We like this place but we're also looking forward to having a new home," said the saleswoman who works at Changi Airport.

"The area is quite deserted and quiet, even during the day. At night it's quite scary when I come back after work around 10pm."

Her brother Louis Santanaswamy, 46, who works in a furniture shop, added: "Our neighbours have been moving out in the last few months, and it can get quite lonely at times."

Built in 1969, the four blocks came under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme in 2003. Residents moved out in 2008.

But the blocks received a new lease of life when they were offered as rental flats at market rates. Block 28 however was set aside to provide temporary housing for needy Singaporean families.

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