Construction in progress for new public housing beside Bedok Reservoir Park.
Bedok has a rich history and was once full of coconut plantations and fishing villages. The area has changed dramatically over the years and is now a popular housing estate with many new shops and excellent eateries.
By Joanne Poh
The friendly rivalry between residents of Singapore’s eastern and western neighbourhoods is an enduring one.
East-side residents pride themselves on the more laid back, less congested nature of their area, which they prefer to the frenetic energy of the west.
Bedok, a mature planning area in eastern Singapore, is the quintessential neighbourhood of the sort that east-siders prize, relaxed yet full of character.
A long history
The name Bedok has been in use since the 17th century, making it one of the oldest local place names still in use today.
The earliest evidence of the name is in reference to Sungei Bedok, formerly a river in present-day Tanah Merah.
The word Bedok was probably derived from bedoh, a Malay word used to denote a large drum that is struck during the Islamic call to prayer.
Coconuts were Bedok residents’ main income source prior to the 60s, thanks to the presence of nearby coconut plantations. Due to its proximity to the coast, fishing was also another thriving industry in the area.
The development of Bedok into the HDB town it is today commenced in 1963, and beginning in 1966, excavation of land in the area was carried out in order to undertake land reclamation along the coastline. The first HDB flats appeared in the area in 1975.
Where the heart is
Bedok is now one of Singapore’s largest planning areas comprising almost 300,000 residents, thanks to the proliferation of HDB flats, as well as some prominent clusters of private residences in the Siglap, Bayshore and Frankel areas.
Some of the facilities in proximity to Bedok include Singapore Changi Airport, Changi Business Park, as well as Bedok Industrial Park and Kaki Bukit Industrial Park, making it an ideal residential choice for those who wish to capitalise on career and business opportunities in the area.
Bedok is also located just minutes away by MRT from Paya Lebar, where the Paya Lebar Air Base is located, and is not far from other amenities in the area such as City Plaza and eateries on the Geylang Road stretch.
It is equally close to Tampines, which is one of Singapore’s most established regional centres and has numerous major shopping malls as well as an IKEA store.
One of the most note-worthy recent developments in the area is Bedok Residences, a mixed-use residential development that opened its doors for occupation in 2015 and features luxurious facilities such as an infinity lap pool and terraced spa pods.
The 583-unit condominium stands out for its prime location and its seamless integration with one of the area’s major shopping malls and transport hubs.
The development is built directly above Bedok Mall, which is also home to Bedok bus interchange and just across the road from Bedok MRT station. The mall is a key meeting point for residents and visitors to Bedok, with its plethora of eateries and retail stores.
This is also where the area’s main transport node is located. Bedok MRT station on the East-West Line takes residents directly to the Central Business District (CBD), and is complemented by the bus interchange. Despite Bedok’s suburban location, it is easily accessible by MRT or by car from the CBD, as well as Changi Airport.
For residents of Bedok, the area is also home to many excellent dining spots.
Hazlina Peer, who lives in Bedok with her husband and mother, identifies the availability of local dining options as a key draw. “There are so many places to eat regardless of the time of day,” she says.
She names Simpang Bedok as her favourite spot for food, adding, “Bedok Mall is great too, there are good shops and restaurants in there.”
She also enjoys Bedok’s proximity to the sea. “It takes me only 10 to 15 minutes to cycle to the beach, and 15 minutes to the airport,” she says. “What’s more, Bedok is only a 25 to 30 minute MRT ride into the city.”
But above all, it is Bedok’s local character that makes it feel like home to its hundreds of thousands of residents.
“I like seeing the neighbourhood kids of all races playing together behind or under the HDB blocks in their school uniforms,” says Hazlina.
From strength to strength
Bedok’s enduring popularity as a well-located mature town has meant that new launches in the area tend to be met with strong interest from the public.
Tay Huey Ying, head of research at JLL Singapore, identifies Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences as the two most recent property launches in the area.
Both are 99-year leasehold condominium projects, with the 841-unit Seaside Residences having been launched in April 2017 and the 720-unit Grandeur Park Residences a month earlier.
“According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) statistics, as of the end of August 2017, there is a balance of 338 unsold units in Seaside Residences, of which 281 units have yet to be released for sale. According to caveats captured by URA Realis, a total of 503 units have been sold at prices ranging between $1,421 and $2,012 psf or an average of $1,724 psf,” says Tay.
She adds, “In the fully-launched Grandeur Park Residences, some 141 units are still available for sale as of the end of August 2017. Based on caveats captured by URA Realis, units were sold at prices ranging from $970 to $1,617 psf or an average of $1,388 psf.”
Tay is confident that Bedok’s popularity will endure. “Bedok has always been popular with home buyers and is expected to remain so as it is a mature housing estate that is well-served by amenities,” she says.
Other than the wealth of amenities, which include malls like Bedok Mall and Bedok Point and heartland shops in the public housing estates, Tay cites popular eateries in the nearby Geylang, Joo Chiat and East Coast areas as a key lifestyle draw.
She adds, “Popular schools found in the locality include Red Swastika School and Victoria and Temasek Junior Colleges. For recreation, residents can head towards East Coast Park and the Bedok Reservoir.”
What is more, Bedok’s already-convenient location looks set to become even more accessible when Bedok North and Bedok Reservoir MRT stations open on 21 October, linking Bedok to the city on the Downtown Line. Bedok residents will also benefit from the opening of the Thomson-East Coast Line in the coming years.
Bedok’s reputation as one of Singapore’s biggest and brightest neighbourhoods does not look set to change anytime soon.
With each new upgrade in transport infrastructure or community and commercial amenities, the appeal of Bedok, Singapore’s most populous planning area is further cemented.
Did you know?
– In 1923, Albert Einstein visited Frankel Estate in the Siglap area, and was reportedly impressed by the coconut trees. Frankel Estate itself was named after a Jewish businessman who was Einstein’s host during his stay in Singapore.
– Bedok has its very own lighthouse, which has been in operation since 1978. Bedok Lighthouse is located atop a block at the Lagoon View condominium and is completely automated, and so does not need manpower to operate.
– Bedok Reservoir was created by the excavation works carried out in the area to facilitate land reclamation. Today, it is a scenic spot where water sports such as kayaking and wakeboarding can be enjoyed.
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