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It's Time To Dream Again ...

Value of flats in Punggol will go up as area is developed

Nazry Bahrawi
Aug 21 2007 (TODAY)

FOR several years, their "Punggol Dream" of waterfront living was put on
hold, even as they had to contend with the lack of shopping facilities,
less-than-perfect public transport and no sports stadium.

But the upgraded Punggol 21+ vision unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien
Loong on Sunday has given residents not only bigger things to look forward
to, but also likely gains to the value of their homes.

ERA Singapore's assistant vice-president Eugene Lim predicts the resale
value of flats could see a "moderate" increase of 5 to 8 per cent over the
next three years. He said: "There is a lot of demand for flats there, but
we will not likely see massive price increases since the area's land
supply is abundant."

PropNex chief executive officer Mohd Ismail agrees that Punggol flats will
gain in value eventually. Describing the new Punggol 21+ plan as an
alternative to staying in a condominium, he told Today: "The pricing of
existing Punggol flats will be determined by the new pricing of the
Punggol 21+ flats."

About 18,000 HDB and private flats are expected to be built, some with
views of the water body that will be created by damming two rivers, Sungei
Punggol and Sungei Serangoon.

According to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Charles Chong, some developments
will be underway in the next five years.

Work on the waterfront promenade, that wraps around the coastline, could
begin early next year, said MP Penny Low, who added that a golf driving
range should be ready by November.

In 1996, plans to build about 80,000 units were unveiled, but the Asian
financial crisis a year later slowed demand which in turn affected the
original Punggol 21 vision to turn the former pig farming area into a
model town for the next century.

Last year, a new five-room flat at Punggol fetched between $182,000 and
$268,000 - compared to an average of $264,500 when the first batch of
Punggol flats was sold in 1998.

Demand is modest compared to other areas. A five-room Punggol flat in the
second quarter of this year fetched an average of $5,000 above valuation,
$20,000 less than a flat of the same size in Ang Mo Kio.

But now, residents can look ahead with hope. Ms Low said her team is
working with the HDB to gather suggestions from residents, starting this

And some are brimming with ideas. Said teacher Radziah Abdul Rahman, 37, a
mother of two: "There is no fast-food restaurant here. My kids would love
to have a McDonald's at least."

Pastor James Satchy, 37, hopes Punggol's idyllic spirit will be retained:
"I do not want it to be another Ang Mo Kio or Toa Payoh, which are too
crowded and noisy for me."

But some have become sceptical after years of waiting. Said human resource
executive Mohd Suhaimi Ismail: "I hope the new Punggol 21+ will not be
delayed like previously."

And government officer Ms Elizabeth Lam, 33, is still bent on selling her
five-room flat - because she cannot wait too long for facilities such as a
shopping mall and a seaside village to materialise.

But Punggol-Oasis Residents' Committee chairman Ivan Chee is keeping his
head up: "The promise coming from Mr Lee at a National Day Rally is a big

Meanwhile, shopkeepers like stationery shop owner Quek Hang Chew, 47, are
worried that development will attract competition that will eat into his

But Mr Chong noted: "Development will also bring in more residents. I
believe the impact on businesses will be positive."

Time to keep the promise

There is no better time to deliver on "old promises", says MP Charles

Asked why the Government had decided to announce the revival of the
Punggol 21 vision now, MP Penny Low said: "This is an ambitious plan …
Before any announcement, we have to ensure there is a certain degree of
confidence in delivering this vision, be it technical expertise, financial
resources or consultation with stakeholders."

Mr Chong also cited economic factors such as the higher demand for flats
in Punggol and the need to ease pressure on the broader property market.

Asked if the move was in anticipation of the next General Election (GE)
due by 2011, he said: "It is not dependent on the GE. It will carry on

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