SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (July 23) evening, the Housing Development Board (HDB) issued notices stating that 17 blocks in Dakota Crescent, one of Singapore's oldest neighbourhoods, have been earmarked for redevelopment. About 400 households there will have to vacate their homes by end-2016. Affected flat types range from one- to three-room units.
The area is planned for future residential development, according to HDB, and the date for development has not been confirmed.This estate was formed in 1958.
Two-thirds of the households have one or more elderly member who is at least 60 years old. The majority of the residents are living in rentals flats, paying between $60 and $75 a month. HDB says those who wish to continue renting will be given priority in the rental of flats in other parts of Singapore, subject to availability. Those who wish to remain in the area can opt for new or rental flats at nearby Cassia Crescent, which will be completed by the third quarter of 2016.
HDB said the tenancy agreement for these new rental flats will be for two years. For Dakota residents, rental flats in Cassia Crescent will start from $26 a month for a one-room flat and $59 for a two-room unit.
For those who choose to buy a flat, first-timer households and singles may be granted a Central Provident Fund (CPF) relocation grant of $15,000 (for families and joint singles) or $7,500 (for singles), if eligible.
Tenants who have already booked new flats will be allocated temporary rental flats, if their new flats are not ready before their move-out date. HDB says eligible tenants will also be given a removal allowance of S$1,000.
Dakota residents had mixed views about the estate's demise. “I have been here for 51 years,” said Rahmat Bee. “It’s convenient to get around from here and it’s a great neighbourhood.”
Meanwhile, a newcomer to the area was surprised by the notice, having only opened his cafe a month ago. "It's really a pity because a lot of customers and neighbours love this place,” said Vincent Foo, co-owner of Tian Kee & Co. "We will stay until the end of December 2016 and at the end of it, we'll throw a party for all the customers and the residents here - past and present."
In an emailed statement to Channel NewsAsia, Member of Parliament for Mountbatten Lim Biow Chuan said residents have been anticipating the move as they are aware of the old and hard-to-maintain nature of the buildings in the estate. "In fact when I did a house visit six weeks ago, some of them asked when they would be moving," he said.
Asked if such estates with rich history should be conserved like Tiong Bahru, Mr Lim said while he personally felt the estate is "very quaint" and "unique", it is conservation experts who should decide this.
“There should be some meritorious criteria to consider before deciding whether to conserve the place," he said. "The state would have to strike a balance between conserving the place versus the need to provide more housing options to the residents in a prime area which is next to a MRT station." - CNA/rw
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