THE new Jurong Lake Gardens will not be developed in a rush, assured Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, promising to maintain the area's special character and heritage.
To drive this patient rejuvenation of a "people's garden" is a steering committee led by Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong, said Mr Tharman yesterday.
Its challenge, he said, is to retain the natural feel and history of the place, and yet inject life and enable many more Singaporeans to enjoy what he hopes will become "an endearing place".
"Jurong Lake Gardens and its surroundings will give a new face to our neighbourhood, something to be enjoyed by residents and Singaporeans everywhere on the island," he said, before joining over 700 families in an event to clean up Jurong Lake.
The Jurong Lake Gardens, which covers more than 70ha by combining the Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden and Jurong Lake Park, will be completed in phases, said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister and an MP for Jurong GRC.
The makeover was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally in August. It will begin with Jurong Lake Destination Park, which will be done by 2017.
Following that, Science Centre Singapore's new home near Chinese Garden MRT station is expected to be ready by 2020.
Mr Wong said his committee wants to put in place a long-term masterplan that will guide development in Jurong Lake District for many years. "This is not a typical (Urban Redevelopment Authority) planning committee. We should look at it more broadly."
This is especially since the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail terminus might be built in Jurong East, and Pandan Reservoir could also be integrated into the area, he said.
An example which the committee - which will be supported by the URA - can learn from is Marina Bay, said Mr Wong.
"If you looked at what we did for Marina Bay, it went on for a number of years... We had a vision and we worked very hard to make the plans happen," he said.
The 15 members in the new committee will come from the Government, the private sector and the community.
"We deliberately put together people with a range of expertise in design, urban planning... as well as representatives from the local community," said Mr Wong, who is an MP for West Coast GRC, which is adjacent to Jurong GRC where the gardens are situated.
The members include Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo; Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee; Nature Society president Shawn Lum; Centre for Liveable Cities executive director Khoo Teng Chye; and Taman Jurong Citizens Consultative Committee chairman Goh Peng Tong.
They will look at ideas and possibilities, gather feedback before the plans are finalised, and also put on roadshows.
"We will certainly want to hear from Singaporeans (on) what they would like to see for Jurong Lake District," said Mr Wong, referring to the plans as a national project.
Mr Habibui Hasim Matbar, 42, who was cleaning up the lake with his seven-year-old son yesterday, said his family, who lives in Boon Lay, is looking forward to the changes. "My family comes here about two or three times a month, and we are very excited," said the Keppel Shipyard project manager.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.