Pedestrian's paradise

PHOTO: Pedestrian's paradise

The Civic District of the future may be a pedestrian's paradise, with fewer cars, more walkways and even a beach.

This ambition was highlighted in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) latest Draft Master Plan 2013, announced on Friday.

One development under study, said URA, is the possible closure of St Andrew's Road, Fullerton Road and An- Pedestrians'

New: Artist's impression of the waterfront promenade. derson Bridge, leaving it open to destination- bound traffic, public buses and pedestrians only.

So could this mean there will be less parking spaces in the area?

At a media briefing on Thursday, URA said yes, but added that the area is already well served by the MRT stations at Raffles Place and City Hall and the various bus services that ply the district.

The aim, the agency said, was to strengthen the district's identity and increase its attractiveness by featuring more "elegant and expansive public spaces".

The last Master Plan for the Civic District was prepared in 1988.

More immediately, a small road at Empress Place - between Asian Civilisations Museum and Victoria Theatre - will be closed to vehicles and converted into a pedestrian path.

The F1 race track at Fullerton Road will also be realigned to provide for a new public space.

Over at Empress Place and Esplanade Park, a new waterfront promenade with stepped plazas will be built, allowing the public to get closer to the water.

URBAN BEACH

An urban beach will also be constructed at Elizabeth Walk.

URA's group director for urban planning and design Fun Siew Leng said the agency expects these plans to be completed by 2015 to coincide with current developments in the area, such as the opening of the National Art Gallery and the completion of renovations to Victoria Theatre.

She said: "All these institutions are coming together very well and it's timely for the URA to undertake plans to see how we can upgrade the whole public realm to tie all these institutions together to create a very pleasant and pedestrian- friendly district for everybody."

Sociology professor Chua Beng Huat of the National University of Singapore (NUS) welcomed the plans for the Civic District.

He said that the area delineated does not cover the Shenton Way businessbanking district.

He said: "A large chunk is taken up by City Hall, The National Art Gallery, the Padang and the two recreation clubs, so pedestrianisation will make this entire district available as a recreational site.

"The only possible complaint would be the diversion of vehicular traffic, which is to be expected."

Planned works

Enhancement works planned to be completed by 2015:

Opening up of waterfront promenade This will allow better access to water, after removal of part of existing railings. There will be also new stepped plazas on Empress Place and an urban beach on Elizabeth Walk.

Parliament Lane and Empress Place will be pedestrianised permanently Existing roads will be converted to a pedestrian path but vehicles used for servicing will still be allowed into the precinct.

Realignment of part of Fullerton Road This will allow for a larger and more elegant lawn space in front of Victoria Theatre/Concert Hall and Asian Civilisations Museum.

Enhancement of Empress Place and Esplanade Park This includes new landscaping to create a series of nodes and smaller spaces. More trees to provide shade and general landscaping enhancements - way-finding signs, more greenery, public seating and night lighting.

Narrower Connaught Drive It will be narrowed by one lane and limited to destination-bound traffic, with no parking for coaches. A new coach park will be set up at Marina Centre.

Long-term developments under study Temporary closure of Anderson Bridge, Fullerton Road, St Andrew's Road and Parliament Place to traffic during weekends or evenings for events. Also, possible closure of those roads to through traffic; leaving it open to destination-bound traffic, public buses and pedestrians only. URA will be seeking views from the public on these plans.


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