All feedback on plans for forest site will be studied: Desmond Lee

The authorities will study all feedback in devising plans for the use of a forest site in Ulu Pandan, following concerns from the public over its zoning for residential use.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee yesterday invited more Singaporeans to send in their views and ideas, adding that all feedback received would be studied in detail as the authorities consider possible plans for the site.

Mr Lee’s Facebook post follows concerns from the public about the fate of the site – commonly known as Dover Forest – after he said last month that some of the Build-To-Order flats to be launched this year would be in the Ulu Pandan estate in Queenstown.

This would likely mean the forest would be replaced with housing, as per its zoning in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014.

The Housing Board sought feedback from Dec 20 to Jan 16 on its environment baseline study on the Ulu Pandan estate, which provided information on the existing diversity and distribution of flora and fauna in the area, among other things. The 33ha estate is home to at least 158 animal species and 120 plant species.

In response, the Nature Society Singapore (NSS), in a 13-page proposal to the HDB on Jan 15, called for the site to be designated a “public-cum-nature park”.

In its proposal, NSS said some parts of the space could be set aside for a recreational park and a community garden, while areas rich in wildlife should remain untouched.

Members of the public were quick to voice their concerns over the development of the forest following the publication of the NSS proposal.

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A petition to save the forest on was started by Dover resident Sydney Cheong, and received more than 37,000 signatures by yesterday.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle have also weighed in on the issue. Next Monday, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza, who oversees the Ulu Pandan ward, will speak in an adjournment motion on preserving the forest. He plans to raise and explore possible vacant alternative sites for housing.

Hougang MP Dennis Tan of the Workers’ Party on Jan 4 had asked if the Ministry of National Development would consider reviewing the status of Clementi Forest and other forests earmarked for development, while fellow party member Nicole Seah on Jan 17 urged Singaporeans to “make your voice heard on this issue”.

Mr Lee said on Facebook yesterday that the Government has to strike a balance between providing for the housing needs of Singaporeans, and securing green and blue spaces for them.

He pointed to earlier leaders who had made decisions to clear land to build modern Singapore, highlighting that the development did not use all the land, but kept some for future generations.

“Today, it is our turn to carry this responsibility of stewardship,” Mr Lee said in the post.

He also cited the successful preservation of green sites that had initially been designated for other uses. For instance, Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat, previously planned for factories, will instead be a nature park.

“We will consult the community, and share more detailed plans and ideas when ready,” Mr Lee said.

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Responding to Mr Lee’s post yesterday, NSS said it is encouraged that the Government will not rush the development of Ulu Pandan estate. The society added that it looks forward to working with the authorities to identify what is worth retaining in the site, as well as opportunities for ecological connectivity.


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