Plans for Dover Forest revised: Events leading to the change

SINGAPORE – The Housing Board on Friday (July 30) announced that it has revised plans for Dover Forest, with the eastern half to be developed for housing, and development plans for the western half put on hold.

A sizeable portion of the western half – which has richer biodiversity than the east sector – will be set aside as a nature park.

Here is a history of the site, as well as a summary of the board’s latest plans for the area.

Timeline of events

2003

Site zoned as “Residential (Subject to Detailed Planning)” in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s master plan.

2020

Dec 20: HDB publishes a 155-page report following an environmental baseline study of Dover Forest. It welcomes public feedback on the findings.

Dec 21: National Development Minister Desmond Lee says Build-To-Order flats will be launched in the Ulu Pandan estate.

2021

Jan 15: The Nature Society (Singapore) publishes a 13-page proposal to HDB, arguing for the forest to be designated a “public-cum-nature park”.

Jan 16: The public feedback period closes.

Jan 28: Mr Lee says all feedback on the future of Dover Forest will be studied closely.

Feb 1: Mr Lee announces a four-week extension to the public feedback period, till March 1. Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza, who oversees the Ulu Pandan ward, proposes to Parliament alternative plots of land around the Ghim Moh neighbourhood for housing development.

July 30: HDB says development plans for the 33ha site will balance nature conservation and housing needs, with the western part of Dover Forest to become a nature park, and the eastern half largely used for residential developments. The plans account for findings from the environmental baseline study and about 1,800 responses received during the two feedback periods.

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History of Dover Forest site

1800s to 1900s

• Most of the earliest settlers in the area during this period are Malays who live on the banks of Sungei Ulu Pandan and fish along the river for a living.

• They are later joined by Chinese settlers who grow rubber trees, durians, rambutans and other trees.

• Part of today’s forest was within the estate of Tan Kim Seng, a prominent trader. A stone marker discovered in the western half of the forest is believed to have marked the boundary of his estate.

1920s to 1940s

• Dover Forest becomes part of a rubber plantation. It is believed that the plantation was abandoned during World War II and not re-established after the war.

1950s

• Sundry tree cultivation replaces rubber plantations, and some low-density settlements are established.

1970s

• Sungei Ulu Pandan is concretised and widened to cope with rapid development and to alleviate a severe flooding problem. The former river is also known as Ulu Pandan Canal today.

1978

• Singapore Polytechnic moves to Dover, just south of the Dover Forest.

1980

• Forest site is zoned a “Comprehensive Development Area” in the master plan.

2003

• Site zoned as “Residential (Subject To Detailed Planning)” in Urban Redevelopment Authority’s master plan.

2011

• A public housing estate, Ghim Moh Valley, is completed at the eastern end of the forest.

2012

• The School of Science and Technology is completed at the western end of the forest.

2017

• Another public housing project, Ghim Moh Edge, is completed in the forest’s eastern end.

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What’s next?

• While the western half remains zoned for residential use, HDB said that development plans will be put off in the medium term and reviewed again around 2030. The review will take into account Singapore’s land use needs at that time.

• The first of the housing projects in the eastern sector of Dover Forest will be launched in the second half of 2022.

• A natural stream in the eastern sector will be retained, with a 20m-wide buffer on both sides.

• A commercial node will likely be developed next to Dover MRT station, offering residents amenities, shops and eateries.

• Another vacant site nearby, next to Ulu Pandan Community Club, will be launched for public housing in 2022.

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