Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at the Opening of Pasir Panjang Park Phase 1 and Launch of Greenery Plans for West Coast

Sep 4, 2021

I’m very delighted to join you this morning at the opening of Phase 1 of Pasir Panjang Park.  

Opening of Phase 1 of Pasir Panjang Park

Pasir Panjang Park is the first park to be designed and built together with the community, and for the community. In late 2019, NParks announced an expansion of the Friends of the Parks initiative, as part of the Singapore Together movement. We want to involve Singaporeans more deeply in designing and growing our parks as well as our green spaces.

Since January last year, about 170 members of the community have come forward and done just that – to work with us on imagining and enhancing Pasir Panjang Park. We have residents, engaged through the Telok Blangah Residents’ Committees and Pasir Panjang East Association Neighbourhood Committee; Businesses and other entities from the surrounding area, such as PSA and Keppel Corporations, Hawkers’ Association, St Andrew’s Nursing Home and Active Global Home; We also have members of the nature and heritage communities, such as the Singapore Heritage Society and the Nature Society Singapore, BES Drongos, Butterfly Circle, Team Seagrass, OtterWatch and various Friends of the Parks communities, as well as our Government agencies, such as NEA, NHB and URA.

Individual Singaporeans have also reached out to us, such as Madam Christina Chow, who wrote in and shared her collection of photos of her family at the former Pasir Panjang Park, after she read about the engagement exercise that we were organising in the news. And I understand that Madam Chow will be joining us for the tree-planting later. Such stories are always heartening to hear and we are very encouraged by their involvement.

In our conversations with the community, they expressed pride in Pasir Panjang’s history as a coastal area. And they provided us with many valuable ideas and feedback that have been incorporated into the design of the park, such as the elements to reflect the park’s coastal origins. We are very thankful for their insights and hope that even more Singaporeans can be actively involved in the process, as we continue to enhance Pasir Panjang Park and other parks around Singapore.

This morning, I am very glad to announce the opening of the first section of the park, which is a 450m stretch that showcases the natural and cultural history of Pasir Panjang. As you know, Pasir Panjang means long beach, or long sand, in Malay. This area used to be part of a natural sandy beach that stretched from Batu Berlayer to the junction of Clementi and West Coast Roads, before land was reclaimed to make way for Pasir Panjang Wharves, and later the Pasir Panjang container terminal.

Special care has been taken to landscape the park to reflect the area’s formerly sandy coastline, and to restore the coastal vegetation that once permeated the area. The park also features a coastal forest and a coastal beach. Visitors can reminisce and families can build sandcastles in the exact location of the former beach coastline. I am told that this runs along the old concrete railing besides the canal.

The park will also pay tribute to Pasir Panjang’s history as home to one of Singapore’s major ports, the Pasir Panjang container terminal. This terminal supports Singapore’s operations as the world’s largest transhipment hub, with connections to 600 ports globally. As part of our plans to transform the Greater Southern Waterfront area, the container terminal will move to Tuas. However, to commemorate its history, horn bollards used at Tanjong Pagar Terminal since 1972, along with other unique maritime artefacts, will be put on display in the park. I would like to thank PSA for contributing these artefacts, as well as its very generous donation of $3.5 million, and strong support for this project.

Our work doesn’t stop there. As we embark on works for Phase 2 of the park, we will continue to partner the community in enhancing the park, and curating programmes and activities. For example, visitors interested in the Pasir Panjang story can look forward to heritage boards and a heritage gallery that will feature old photos of the area contributed by the community. We will also work with the community to carry out plant propagation to prepare and nurture tree saplings that will be planted in the park. And, design wayfinding and interpretation signage and demarcate user information on the footpaths as well as cycling paths. We look forward to working with members of the community on these areas, to enhance the park experience for everyone, and to share the cultural heritage of Pasir Panjang.

Greenery Enhancements in West Coast

Pasir Panjang Park is just one key node of the extensive green network that we are building in the west of Singapore – the West Coast Green Corridor, to strengthen ecological connectivity between Labrador Nature Reserve in the south, the Jurong industrial estates to the far west, and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in the north. The western coast of Singapore was created out of reclaimed land in the 1970s, as the area was largely set aside for industrial estates. We will intensively green up within these estates, by introducing more pervasive greenery and amenities to provide nature-based recreation across the larger West Coast area. Just recently, we also announced that we would introduce two new nature trails running through Clementi Forest, as part of our Clementi Nature Corridor. This is in addition to the other recreational routes we are developing, such as the Round Island Route and Coast-to-Coast trails. With this, West Coast will be well-connected and biodiversity can thrive alongside our people and urban areas – as part of our vision for a City in Nature.

Today, I am happy to share with you the many things we are doing in the West Coast area to achieve this over the next decade. First, we will establish more than 10 new Nature Ways by enhancing our streetscapes with multi-tiered lush naturalistic plantings. In line with the character of the West Coast area, native coastal species will be used in these plantings. Second, we will rewild up to 14 sites near existing Nature Areas, such as the Southern Ridges and Rail Corridor, with native trees and plants, to enhance habitats for our local biodiversity. And, we will continue to weave greenery into upcoming major infrastructure developments in the area. MRT stations along the upcoming Jurong Region Line, will be greened up in three stages, over the next 10 years.

In addition, we are developing many new nature-based amenities for the community to enjoy. Today, there are more than 120 community and allotment gardens within West Coast. NParks will work with the People’s Association and the Grassroots community to add up to 30 more of such gardens across the heartlands in the West Coast area to cater to the strong gardening interests among our residents. NParks will also build up a network of therapeutic gardens and therapeutic horticulture programmes in the area. These will be added to Jurong Central Park and West Coast Park, as well as community care facilities. These gardens and programmes will enhance the well-being of our residents, especially our seniors. To grow our children’s love for nature through play, we will add nature playgardens and inclusive playgrounds that will include features designed for children with special needs.

Community Partnership

The initiatives I have just shared are integral to our efforts to transform Singapore into a City in Nature – which a key pillar of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. By enhancing greenery within the heartlands and industrial estates, we aim to mitigate the effects of climate change and urbanisation and provide Singaporeans with a higher quality living environment and greater access to the benefits of nature on their health and well-being.
We look forward to working together with the families and communities in the West Coast area to shape these plans and turn them into reality. We will reach out to you soon, through various channels, to gather your ideas and suggestions for our green spaces in West Coast.

And, we will provide many opportunities where you can take part in our greening efforts. For example, NParks will be organising more community tree-planting activities under the OneMillionTrees movement.

In these ways, we aim to create more inclusive green spaces for all Singaporeans to enjoy. And to extend the spirit of community involvement to many more green spaces and their local communities all over our island.

We look forward to our close partnership in the years ahead, as we continue on our journey to transform Singapore into a City in Nature, and to build a greener West Coast area.

Thank you, good morning, stay safe and have a great day ahead.