Make Waterloo vehicle-free? Some say no

Make Waterloo vehicle-free? Some say no

SINGAPORE - Pedestrian-only streets have been a hit for revellers and businesses in areas such as Club Street and Ann Siang Road.

But a plan raised in Parliament last month to extend this to Waterloo Street, where religion and the arts create an eclectic mix, has met some opposition.

Residents and several religious groups told The Sunday Times that they are not looking forward to a further onslaught of crowds, congestion and noise.

"Sound really travels here so organisers need to take into consideration the possible noise pollution it may cause for elderly folk living in the flats nearby," said Mr Ang Kwan San, 50, a factory worker who lives in Block 264.

The area is home to a host of religious landmarks, including the Church of Saints Peter and Paul and Sri Krishnan Temple - both of which were founded in 1870 - and the 135-year-old Maghain Aboth Synagogue.

A portion of the street - near the popular Sri Krishnan and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temples - is already a no-car zone.

Several of these organisations, which are busiest on weekends, believe opening up more of the street to throngs of pedestrians could make the situation more hectic.

"I think the worshippers expect peace and serenity where possible," said Kum Yan Methodist Church pastor Law Poh Ing.

But the street is also flanked by museums and arts facilities such as Dance Ensemble Singapore and Sculpture Square, which are managed by the National Arts Council.

And these arts groups, along with food outlets there, believe the plan will revitalise the two-way street which stretches from Rochor Road to Bras Basah Road.

"It's somewhat like a ghost town at night so this can really help to draw regular crowds and generate awareness about the arts groups here," said Mr Tan Tiow Siong, the secretary-general of the Singapore Calligraphy Centre located there.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has been meeting operators of art establishments at Waterloo Street for feedback. A URA spokesman said it would engage other stakeholders before firming plans to "enhance the public realm on Waterloo Street".

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