Eye on Bukit Panjang: The evolution of Bukit Panjang

From a sleepy village to a bustling town, Bukit Panjang has evolved tremendously over the past few decades. And with the Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub set for completion in 2017, the area is expected to further transform into a hive of activity.

by Michelle Yee

With a slew of new private and public residential developments, a well-connected transportation network, and a growing number of amenities, Bukit Panjang is fast becoming an increasingly popular place to live.

But during the early 1900s, Bukit Panjang was completely different. Back then, the area comprised rural settlements and agricultural areas, and housed both Chinese and Malay villagers who lived in a mix of attap and zinc-roofed huts. The area was also a marketplace — there were close to 100 two-storey shophouses lining both sides of Bukit Panjang Road, selling a wide variety of items such as Chinese herbs, clothing and hardware. There were also coffeeshops within these shophouses.

The current Bukit Panjang bus interchange used to be a wet market, where vendors sold fresh vegetables, meat, poultry, noodles and more. Then in the early 1980s, things in Bukit Panjang began to change, as the government ordered the kampongs to be cleared out. With the urban renewal, the area underwent a complete transformation which took several years — the development of Zhenghua New Town (which was later renamed Bukit Panjang New Town) started in 1984, and Bukit Panjang Village was demolished in 1986. The shophouses along Bukit Panjang Road were also demolished in early 2000 to make way for condominium developments.

With the transformation, many were drawn to living in Bukit Panjang, which sits at the doorstep of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Water Catchment Area, offering an idyllic combination of urban living with the serenity of nature.

“Residents of Bukit Panjang can benefit from living close to pristine rainforests, which is very rare in a small, urbanised city-state like Singapore,” said Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer and Head of Research, ERA Singapore.

Set for more change

Although Bukit Panjang has witnessed a massive transformation thus far, the area is set for even more change in the coming years.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Bukit Panjang will continue to be developed progressively to meet the needs of the community. Some upcoming developments include the Hillion Mall and Hillion Residences, a mixed-use development at Jelebu Road that will offer a greater choice of amenities, including a hawker centre and market at Bukit Panjang Road, enrichment centres, and a new primary school at Bukit Panjang Ring Road. Several initiatives will also be implemented in the coming years to provide improved access to green spaces for residents — plans include the Zhenghua Park extension, new neighbourhood parks in the Bukit Panjang North and Dairy Farm areas, as well as a new park connector along Upper Bukit Timah Road to link existing and new green spaces.

Seamless connectivity

Another upcoming development that is set to enhance Bukit Panjang’s appeal is the Integrated Transport Hub, which is slated to be completed in 2017.

According to URA, the Bukit Panjang bus interchange is currently being redeveloped as part of the upcoming Hillion Residences and mall development at Jelebu Road, to be ready by 2015. This integrated development will link the Bukit Panjang LRT station with the future bus interchange, as well as the upcoming Bukit Panjang Downtown Line 2 (DTL2) station. With the opening of three new MRT stations in Bukit Panjang town (Bukit Panjang, Cashew, and Hillview) along the DTL2 by mid-2016, residents will have more options for shorter and more comfortable journeys between Bukit Panjang and the rest of Singapore.

Sharing his thoughts on how the upcoming Integrated Transport Hub will affect the prospects of Bukit Panjang moving forward, Lim says, “Bukit Panjang is likely to benefit greatly from the opening of the Integrated Transport Hub, as well as the opening of phase two of the Downtown Line. Accessibility to other parts of Singapore will be greatly enhanced, and residents will also stand to gain from the wider variety of amenities within Bukit Panjang that come with the opening of the Transport Hub.

“That said, Bukit Panjang may become one of the more sought-after housing estates in the West, moving forward, given its well-connected public transport network and growing selection of amenities; and yet being so near to a nature reserve.”

Sharing similar sentiments, Wong Xian Yang, Research and Consultancy Manager at OrangeTee, said: “Having the majority of the residents in Bukit Panjang in the working class, the integrated transport hub will definitely be convenient for them. An increase in accessibility would definitely affect prices and rents favourably.”

Wong added that the second stage of the Downtown line, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, will give this area a boost. “In view of Bukit Panjang being one of the interchange nodes for the DTL and NSL, tenants can look forward to more footfall in the area.”

Developments to look at

Hillion Residences

Strategically situated in the heart of Bukit Panjang, Hillion Residences will be the first mixed-use development in the west to combine residential living with a retail mall, bus interchange, and MRT and LRT stations. Jointly developed by Sim Lian Group and Sim Lian Development, this 546-unit development is set to be a hit with a diverse range of home buyers.

Comprising three 23-storey blocks of residential apartments, buyers can pick from one- to four-bedroom units, which range from 463 sq ft to 1,410 sq ft, and penthouse units, which range from 2,616 sq ft to 3,208 sq ft.

In addition to offering easy accessibility to a range of amenities, the development is also located within proximity to several established schools, including CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace, Zhenghua Primary School, West View Primary School and Pioneer Junior College, among others.

Hillview Peak

Nestled in a quiet enclave within Hillview estate and surrounded by the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Bukit Batok Town Park, Dairy Farm Nature Park and Hindhede Nature Park, Hillview Peak is set to offer residents a respite away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

In its tranquil surroundings and panoramic views of lush greenery, this 512-unit project by Kingsford Development also provides a slew of shopping, dining and entertainment options, such as The HillV2, a 55,500 sq ft lifestyle and retail mall, The Rail Mall, Junction 10 and West Mall.

The development benefits from being near to a handful of renowned schools and transportation networks, such as Assumption English School, St. Anthony’s Primary School, CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace, and Bukit Batok MRT station. The city is also easily accessible via major expressways, such as the PIE and BKE.

The Skywoods

It is easy to imagine The Skywoods as the ideal out-of-city sanctuary. Located amid the lush greenery of Dairy Farm Nature Reserve along Dairy Farm Heights, this residential project by Bukit Timah Green Development is seemingly far removed from the turbulence of daily urban life. Although The Skywoods is close to nature, residents can also enjoy the convenience of being near to a variety of shopping malls, including Beauty World Plaza, Bukit Panjang Plaza and Ten Mile Junction, providing the ideal balance between the need for privacy and tranquility, as well as convenience.

The development features 420 units of one- to four-bedroom apartment types, as well as penthouses. All units come fully equipped with the finest fittings and finishes, including exquisite marble flooring.

Aside from the many facilities at The Skywoods, residents will also be able to enjoy convenient access to other parts of Singapore via the upcoming Hillview MRT station, as well as major expressways such as the BKE, PIE and AYE, all of which are also just a stone’s throw away.