Dover Forest conservation: MP suggest alternative sites for housing

2 Feb 2021

Mr. Christopher de Souza, the MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, suggested using the vacant plots of land located next to Ulu Pandan CC and the old Ghim Moh Primary School, as well as redeveloping the site of the old Raffles Junior College campus. Image: Google Street View

Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher de Souza has urged the government to conserve the Dover Forest and pointed to some alternative sites that the government can use for housing needs instead of clearing the 33ha forest, reported TODAY.

Dover Forest, which had been rezoned for residential development in 2003, is a secondary forest that regrew on an old plantation site.

Recently, there have been petitions and calls to conserve the 40-year old forest as well as the nearby Clementi Forest, both of which are situated within de Souza’s constituency.

In an adjournment motion in Parliament, the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MP suggested using two vacant plots of land located next to Ulu Pandan Community Club (CC) and a large unused field at the old Ghim Moh Primary School as well as redeveloping the site of the old Raffles Junior College campus.

Recommended article: Should We Be Clearing Forests for Residential Use?

“What I am trying to get across today to the planners is the need to think long and hard before making irreversible decisions,” said de Souza as quoted by TODAY.

With gross plot ratios of 4.6 and 4.9, the two sites next to the CC can be used for Build-to-Order (BTO) flats and rehouse residents staying in some of the older blocks within Ghim Moh, which may be demolished under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

Barring any security considerations or other requirements, this means flats can be built on the two sites at high densities and with heights of over 36 storeys, based on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s guidelines.

The two vacant sites used to house Blocks 9 to 12A, which were demolished with residents living there moved to Ghim Moh Link through SERS.

MP de Souza proposed a selective en bloc of Blocks 1 to 6, which were constructed in 1976 along Ghim Moh Road, with the residents rehoused at the two sites next to the CC.

Moving residents from the six blocks to the vacant sites would release another “jigsaw piece” which can be used to rehouse residents in nine other blocks located near Ghim Moh market, possibly via Sers.

“The vision is to continue to keep the market as the heart of Ghim Moh, while at the same time rejuvenating the whole of Ghim Moh town through a deliberate and phased SERS development and the use of high gross plot ratios,” said de Souza.

Suggested read: Potential En Bloc Properties in Singapore: Does Your Home Have A Chance?

In the event the two sites are insufficient for the new developments, he suggested using a large field at the defunct Ghim Moh Primary School for housing.

He also pointed to the old Raffles Junior College campus as a third alternative.

“According to the master plan, the campus is subject to detailed planning. I am offering a proposal for that ‘detailed planning’ today,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How said some of de Souza’s suggestions had already been raised by residents when the authorities sought feedback on Dover Forest’s redevelopment.

“We optimise our limited land supply by co-locating users, increasing the density of land plots, redeveloping existing sites and, where it makes sense, going underground,” he said as quoted by TODAY.

He also reiterated National Development Minister Desmond Lee’s announcement that the public consultation on Dover Forest has been extended by four weeks.

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