Speech by Minister Lawrence Wong at the Launch of Exhibition of Public Ideas for Pasir Panjang Power District

Jan 13, 2020

A very good morning. I hope all of you have had a very good start to 2020, and the new decade. It is fitting that we are starting this new year with this exhibition of public ideas for the Pasir Panjang Power District because this is part of the Greater Southern Waterfront which will be one of our biggest urban transformation projects to take our city to the next level. By 2027, the container terminals at Keppel, Tanjong Pagar and Brani will move out, and we will start developing that section of the Greater Southern Waterfront. But prior to that, the first project in the Greater Southern Waterfront will be the area around Labrador Park. 

One key parcel is the Pasir Panjang Power District. It is 15ha of prime waterfront land which consists of two disused power station buildings – Power Station ‘A’ and Power Station ‘B’. They used to supply electricity to our industries and city centre back in the 1950s and 60s. They were eventually decommissioned in the mid-1980s and late-1990s, as cleaner and more advanced power stations were built.

In other countries, power stations with their unique structures are often repurposed when they have outlived their original uses. You can see this for example in the Tate Modern art museum in the UK and Powerhouse Brisbane in Australia. Likewise, we will adopt a similar approach here. Redevelopment for Singapore does not mean having to tear down and demolish all our old buildings. Here, we can keep these historical buildings and give the old power stations a new lease of life.

We can already see the potential in some of the events held at the Power District in recent years. We have had music performances, art markets, and streetwear conventions.

The question is – how can we go beyond these short-term events to repurpose these old buildings and transform the Power District? Rather than have URA decide and answer this question, we decided to go for a more collaborative approach in order to get as many Singaporeans involved as possible in shaping the Greater Southern Waterfront. That is why URA and SLA jointly organised the “Power-Up Pasir Panjang!” ideas competition last year. Participants were invited to submit ideas under two topics. The first topic was to come up with a master plan for the rejuvenation of the whole Power District, and the second topic was more targeted to come up with innovative ways to repurpose Power Station ‘A’.

I am glad that the competition received widespread interest – we received nearly 80 submissions from students and professionals coming from different backgrounds, including submissions from overseas such as China and Indonesia, and even countries further afield in Sweden and the UK.

There were many good ideas, as you will see from the exhibition later – some suggested converting this into a mixed-use district, a hotel, events venue, a gallery space, an indoor park, an urban farm, a theme park, co-working space, a space for creative industries. These were amongst the many ideas that were put up. I am sure it was not easy for the jury panellists to pick out the winning submissions and I would like to take this opportunity this morning to congratulate all 10 winners of the competition. 

We are very excited by all the ideas received from the competition. The ideas give us a better sense of the wide range of possibilities for the Power District. What will we do with these ideas? We will incorporate them into a Request for Information (RFI) exercise, which we are launching today. Through this exercise, we will get additional feedback from private developers and other interested parties – meaning those who have a real interest in developing and repurposing the District. From that, we will further refine the planning parameters of the site before we conclude and release the land parcel for development, possibly through a tender sometime next year.  

This is a much more involved process than what would typically happen – where URA decides on the parameters, and we just go straight to a land tender. I think it is worthwhile taking some time to go through such a process. It is part of our “Singapore Together” movement to involve more Singaporeans in shaping our nation’s future. By doing so it will foster a greater sense of commitment. It will also allow us to generate a broad range of ideas from as many people as possible, before we narrow down to the best proposal for this site. By doing so, I believe we can ensure that the Power District will be redeveloped into a unique waterfront destination that all Singaporeans can be proud of.

There are other things happening around the Power District. Nearby we have the Singapore Power 230kV Substation – it is just north of the Power District and in some ways, it blocks the entrance to the Power District. You will be happy to know that Singapore Power is in the process of redeveloping this into our first 230kV underground substation – it will tuck the substation underground, with an integrated commercial development sitting on top. That will be ready by around 2025. Next to this site is the Keppel Golf Club – its lease expires next year and the land will revert to the State. Thereafter, once the land preparatory work are done, we will launch the site for residential development, and it will have about 9,000 homes, including public housing. There will be green spaces linking all of these developments – one such space is the new Pasir Panjang Park.  It is one of over 50 upcoming parks under the citizens’ park programme we announced recently – where we will involve many Singaporeans in the designing of the parks. NParks will soon be engaging the community on plans for this Pasir Panjang Park as well.

By the mid-2020s, all of us will be able to see these developments around Pasir Panjang and Labrador Park MRT starting to take shape. Then when container terminals move out in 2027, we can start work on the next big chunk of the Greater Southern Waterfront – where the Keppel, Tanjong Pagar and Brani terminals are. If you imagine the entire stretch of the Greater Southern Waterfront, we have Marina East on one end where we already have developments – and it is extending beyond Marina East and Marina South towards the west. On the other end of the Greater Southern Waterfront we have Pasir Panjang where we have all these projects which I just described. Eventually, they will come together at the centre, linked up with new attractions in Sentosa and Brani. In 20 years’ time, when you walk down from Marina Bay to Pasir Panjang, you will start to see the transformation of the area into a new, exciting and completely different waterfront. 

This is just the beginning of a very long journey ahead. There is lots more work to be done and many exciting opportunities for us to build our future city. But as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We are taking our first and important step today in the development of the Greater Southern Waterfront, starting with your ideas for the new Pasir Panjang Power District. I would like to thank everyone for your contributions in shaping this new area. We certainly look forward to continued collaborations with all our stakeholders to develop the new Power District and the Greater Southern Waterfront over the coming years. Thank you very much and please enjoy the exhibition.