Integrated town park plan for Toa Payoh

SINGAPORE - Several government agencies are looking at how Toa Payoh's park, library and stadium can be brought together in a new way that will improve residents' quality of life.

In the first urban planning exercise of its kind, one of the agencies, the National Parks Board (NParks), has called a tender for a feasibility study to look into bringing together these three landmarks.

Up for consideration as well are pedestrian links between the new park area, Toa Payoh Town Centre and Balestier, and the integration of park connector networks.

Toa Payoh Town Park and the 3,900-seat Toa Payoh Stadium are now next to each other along Lorong 6.

The library is about 300m away along Lorong 4, and The Straits Times understands that the exercise is open to suggestions to move it.

NParks' director of parks development Yeo Meng Tong told The Straits Times that the revamp could eventually result in more park land and a better quality of life for residents.

Urban planning and transport analyst Lee Der Horng of the National University of Singapore said that the result could be "a park where people can have all sorts of infrastructure and facilities in one walkable place".

"That has never been done in any other part of Singapore and would be a new thing in urban planning here," he said.

Although NParks called for the study, to be completed by the middle of next year, the Singapore Sports Council, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), National Library Board, Energy Market Authority and the Housing Board are also involved.

Possible changes in Toa Payoh were first mentioned last November in the URA's Draft Master Plan 2013.

Singapore's second-oldest housing estate after Queenstown, Toa Payoh was picked partly because it already has facilities like a town park and library.

With other major gathering points such as the HDB Hub, it means that people have to travel a lot to get around. Dr Lee said that the place could do with better integration.

"It is critical to enhance infrastructure so that people can walk or cycle more freely between these facilities," the analyst said, suggesting weather-proof underground paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

Mr Gideon Aschwanden, a Future Cities Laboratory researcher who has studied walkability in urban spaces, said that new ideas for Toa Payoh could also bring health benefits.

"People only walk when there is something to walk to. Multifunctional urban planning motivates people to walk longer distances which in turn improves their health," he said.

Dentist Jason Chua, 27, a Toa Payoh resident of 20 years, welcomed the call for ideas, saying: "Toa Payoh is actually quite well-connected already, but it would be nice to have more cycling paths to link the various facilities and also increase accessibility to park connectors."