4 blocks in Ang Mo Kio to be torn down

Ten years after they were first earmarked for redevelopment, four blocks of flats in the mature Ang Mo Kio estate are finally facing the wrecking ball.

Come February next year, Blocks 246 to 249 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 2 and Avenue 3 will be torn down to make way for new homes, The Straits Times has learnt.

The open-air carpark between these yellow and white 12-storey blocks, which are 39 to 40 years old, will also be demolished.

Most of the soon-to-be-vacated site, just next to Mayflower Secondary School and across the road from Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, is zoned for residential use under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s latest masterplan in 2014.

A smaller area within it has been marked as a “reserve site”, which means the specific use of the land parcel has yet to be determined.

The 42,584 sq m demolition site, about the size of six football fields, will be boarded up for safety, a Housing Board spokesman said in response to queries.

According to tender documents, the demolition project is estimated to cost $800,000 and is expected to be completed by September 2018.

The four blocks, along with adjacent Blocks 250 to 252, were placed on the HDB’s Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) in June 2006. Under this scheme, old blocks are demolished and residents are offered new replacement flats with a fresh 99-year lease at subsidised prices.

All the residents had moved out by the end of 2012 and many relocated to newly built blocks nearby, in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1.

Blocks 250 to 252 were demolished in 2013 and new flats are currently being built in their place.

Blocks 246 to 249, however, were given a new lease of life as rental homes in 2013. Blocks 246 and 247 are on the HDB’s Interim Rental Housing Scheme, which provides needy families with temporary housing at subsidised rates while they search for longer-term homes.

Meanwhile, Blocks 248 and 249 are being used for the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), which provides temporary homes to families waiting for their new flats to be completed.

These tenants will be provided with alternative homes if they still need temporary housing as the demolition date approaches, HDB said.

Some 72 Sers projects have been completed since the scheme’s inception in 1995. The last demolition project under Sers was carried out in December for Blocks 407 to 409 in Clementi Avenue 1.

While most Sers blocks have been demolished, some, like the four in Ang Mo Kio, are still standing as they are not required for immediate development. Blocks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 in Boon Tiong Road, for instance, were part of the first Sers project. But the flats there are now being rented out under the PPHS.

Chef Melvin Tan, who is renting a three-room flat at Block 248 while waiting for his new Toa Payoh flat to be built, told The Straits Times the HDB had informed him about the demolition.

The 43-year-old, who lives with his wife and two children, said he will miss his current neighbourhood. “It’s very convenient. We can just cross the road to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. I always take my children there to play at the water playground,” said Mr Tan.

Retiree Maniam Ramasamy, 80, who used to live in Block 246, said he is sad to see his old home go for good. “I lived there for 33 years and had many good moments with my family,” he said wistfully.

Other former residents were less nostalgic. Said Mr Ng Choon Kiang, 55, who is unemployed: “The flats there are very old and most of the shops in the area have moved out. It’s time to tear them down.”