Tanglin Halt residents sad to leave estate for SERS

Victor KangJune 7, 2021

“When we first heard the news, we really could not bear to leave. We will lose decades-long friendships. Some of our friends are moving to Bukit Panjang and Clementi,” said Madam Leong Mei, who bought a three-room flat with her husband in 1973. Photo: Google Street View

Tanglin Halt residents were saddened when they first learned that they had to move under the HDB’s Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

The plan to redevelop the estate was first announced in 2014, with residents offered replacement flats ranging between two- and five-room units in Dawson, reported The Straits Times (ST).

Aside from the 31 residential blocks within the estate, also set for demolition are the two markets, a food centre and seven commercial blocks in Tanglin Halt. The demolition is set to be completed in 2024.

“When we first heard the news, we really could not bear to leave. We will lose decades-long friendships. Some of our friends are moving to Bukit Panjang and Clementi,” said Madam Leong Mei, 76, as quoted by ST.

She and her 82-year-old husband, Yee Kong Hoi, purchased a three-room flat at Block 31 after they got married in 1973. The family later acquired the next door unit, which they combined with their current unit to create a four-bedroom flat.

The couple shared they will miss the convenience of living near Commonwealth MRT station as well as the inclusive community spaces within Tanglin Halt.

“It really is very comfortable here,” said Madam Leong. “We even went to the MP at the start to ask why we had to move.”

Eric Chua, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, said he is aware of how residents feel.

“Places can change but relationships hopefully will not. I hope the neighbourly bonds of residents will be cherished and ported over to Dawson,” he said as quoted by ST.

He revealed plans to make a documentary capturing the charm of Tanglin Halt. In fact, he has made an application to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for the production of the four-part film series.

Chua said he intends “to feature The Quests, a band popular in Singapore in the 1960s who had their origins in Queenstown, and has extended an invite to Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who was a resident of Commonwealth Drive during his undergraduate years,” said ST.

Chua also hopes “the three-storey buildings designed by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), the predecessor to the HDB” will be preserved.

Spanning Blocks 57, 61, 67 to 73 Commonwealth Drive, the nine unique low-rise flats are now considered an uncommon sight within the city-state’s metropolitan landscape.

Meanwhile, Lee Boo Song, who has been running Hock Ann Confectionery at Block 46-3 since 1986, said he will give up his business after moving out.

“Even after they’ve moved out, customers still come back for our traditional flavour. The shop is hard to give up, but we have no choice because of the competition today,” said 70-year old Lee, who lives in Geylang Bahru.

Notably, a total of 157 stalls from Commonwealth Drive Food Centre and the Tanglin Halt Market as well as 54 rental shops and eating houses are set to be cleared under the redevelopment programme.

Affected stallholders at Commonwealth Drive Food Centre will be offered replacement units at the new two-storey hawker centre, which will come with 40 cooked food stalls, in Margaret Drive.

Dr Chia Shi-Lu, the area’s former MP from 2011 to last year, said redevelopment is rejuvenation not demolition.

“There has sadly been a gradual but perceptible loss of vitality in Tanglin Halt over the past two decades – a significant extent due to the ageing of its population, with not many businesses and shops moving in – so something had to be done to give Tanglin Halt a new lease of life,” he explained as quoted by ST.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email: victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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