Eye on Tampines: In perpetual progress

From swamps and sand quarries to self-sufficiency and sustainability, Tampines has seen much change. Even so, it continues to progress both residentially and commercially, evolving to make life better for its residents.

by Cheryl Marie Tay

Tampines may be an eastside town named after a tree, but it lays claim to at least two distinctions in Singapore: the country’s largest residential area, and its second largest non-central commercial hub (the first being Jurong).

Indeed, Tampines has come a long way from its swampy, forested past, when it was known for its sand quarries and ironwood trees. It was also home to rubber plantations in the early 20th century, and was part of a military training area till 1987.

These days, Tampines is a self-sustaining residential area with three malls, numerous schools, offices, banks, and more. The estate has been constantly developing since 1978, and is at present split into four divisions: Tampines East, Tampines West, Tampines North and Tampines Changkat.

In fact, it has gone so far as to be given the World Habitat Award by the United Nations’ Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) in 1992, to honour its laudable contribution to human settlement and development.

Space to live

Tampines may have changed drastically over the last three decades, but its evolution is far from over. Up until the early 2000s, homes in the area were mostly HDB flats. Today, it boasts EC (Arc @ Tampines, CityLife, The Eden, The Tampines Trilliant), DBSS (Centrale 8), and even condominium developments (Q Bay Residences, The Santorini, Waterview).

Of course, HDB projects continue to thrive, with several BTO projects having sprung up in the area: namely, Tampines GreenLeaf, Tampines GreenRidges, Tampines GreenTerrace and Tampines GreenWeave.

This added variety of housing types has seen a surge in Tampines’ popularity as a housing estate, thanks in no small part to homebuyers now being spoilt for choice there. HDB upgraders in particular, who want to make the move to private housing but still want to live in Tampines, are at an advantage.

In fact, sales figures for The Santorini show that HDB upgraders account for over 80 percent of its buyers. The condo project boasts an impressive 20-court badminton, hall six swimming pools and 5,000-seater stadium.

Space to work

Tampines is not just Singapore’s largest residential area. It is second only to Jurong when it comes to its size as a non-central commercial hub, and is therefore a great place for working adults to live. As Wong Xian Yang, Senior Manager of Research and Consultancy at OrangeTee, says: “Tampines is a significant job creation zone in Singapore, with Changi Business Park and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in the area. It is also a short drive away from Changi Airport.”

Indeed, Tampines is home to Tampines Telepark, Tampines Retail Park, Tampines Industrial Park A, Tampines Wafer Fab Park, Tampines Hi-Tech Park, Tampines LogisPark and Tampines Advance Display Park, as well as banks, schools and three shopping malls. This means a significant number of job opportunities for adults.

The presence of 12 primary and nine secondary schools, as well as Tampines Junior College, Temasek Polytechnic and United World College, also makes for many educational and professional opportunities. Naturally, this also means that Tampines is an ideal location for families to reside.

Space to play

Of course, it’s not all about work and school. There are plenty of options for dining, entertainment and recreation in Tampines. Its three shopping malls, located within close proximity of one another and near the bus interchange and MRT station, already provide a wide array of retail and dining choices. Additionally, IKEA Tampines, Courts Megastore and Giant, which are within walking distance of one another, can be reached via a short shuttle bus ride from Tampines MRT station.

According to Wong, “Even after Tampines 1 was completed, Tampines Mall went through Asset Enhancement Initiatives (AEI) to upgrade and introduce more retail space into the area. The robust performance of the malls in Tampines highlights the demand for retail spaces in the densely populated area.”

Those looking to keep fit can either visit any of the three gyms in Tampines Central, (True Fitness at the NTUC Income Building, Fitness First at the CPF Building, and Amore at Tampines 1). Active individuals who prefer the outdoors can head to the upcoming Boulevard Park and Quarry Park, as well as the Outdoor Play Corridor, which stretches 30km and connects
Bedok Reservoir to East Coast Park. There are also many other parks, such as Sunplaza Park, Tampines Eco Green and Tampines North Park, to name but a few.

Convenience epitomized

Despite — or perhaps, because of — its size, travelling to, from and within Tampines is a breeze. Apart from feeder bus services that bring commuters around the estate itself, there are buses that travel directly to and from areas such as Orchard Road, the CBD, Yishun, and even Bukit Timah.

Furthermore, in addition to Tampines MRT station on the East-West Line, the Tampines East and Tampines West MRT stations on the upcoming Downtown Line are in progress, making transport to and from the city even easier.

Those with their own transport can use the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and Tampines Expressway (TPE) to travel to the rest of the island.

On the horizon

Residential property-wise, though Tampines has lesser upcoming supply as compared to other planning areas in Singapore, homeowners may see softening rents, with the series of completions in Pasir Ris. Wong says: “A total of 5,967 private non-landed units are in the supply pipeline in Pasir Ris from now till 2019. Being just one MRT station apart (from each other), tenants may be indifferent to living in (either) Pasir Ris or Tampines.”

Still, he believes the future is bright: “Tampines’ development as a major commercial hub in the east side of Singapore will bode well for properties in the area. There will be new industrial sites within Tampines North (along Tampines Avenue 10), and more employment and educational opportunities from the continued development of Changi Business Park and the SUTD. Employment within comfortable and convenient distance will continue to keep residential developments in the area in demand