WOODLANDS Central, one of four regional centres that will serve as business hubs outside the city, will have its own retail and food complex by 2017.
The $31.1 million project has been earmarked to be built in the open space next to Woodlands Sports Hall and bounded by Woodlands Street 12, The Straits Times understands.
Facilities planned for the hub, which is a joint development by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Housing Board, include a hawker centre with 80 cooked food stalls, 60 retail shops, five commercial schools, a supermarket and some 200 parking spaces.
To support future traffic to the area, Woodlands Street 12 will be widened and a new slip road added from the street to Woodlands Avenue 3.
Plans to develop the new hub in Woodlands Central comes after a relocation exercise announced by HDB in 2012, which will affect many households, businesses and hawker stalls at Woodlands Centre Road.
The Housing Board said then that six blocks in the area will have to be relocated under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme to replacement flats in Woodlands Drive 70 by 2016.
The move, said HDB at the time, would affect some 147 households, 200 businesses in rental shops and 78 hawker stalls.
The new hub is partly meant to ensure that there are enough cooked food stalls in the area, NEA told The Straits Times last week.
Currently, there is only one NEA-managed hawker centre in Woodlands, located at Block 20 Marsiling Lane.
There will be an urgent need for more food options once the crowd comes in with the upcoming development of the Woodlands Regional Centre, said residents The Straits Times spoke to.
There are plans for one part of the regional centre to be a retail hub called Woodlands Central, occupying a 30ha area around Woodlands MRT and Causeway Point.
The Woodlands MRT station is also likely to be busier when it becomes an interchange linking the North-South Line with the new Thomson Line in 2019.
"Woodlands is getting very crowded, so the new facility would help the sports users who frequent the stadium, swimming complex or sports hall to have hawker stalls on the doorstep," said Woodlands resident Elle Lim, 26, a freelance music teacher.
Ms Rachel Ong, 54, who works at the nearby Woodlands Civic Centre, agreed.
"The new hub will ease some pressure from the potentially crowded central area by directing footfall to its food stalls and shops," said the administrator.
"I just hope that the new road created will ease the traffic congestion that arises whenever there are events like night markets or bazaars in the area."
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.