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590 HDB blocks picked for upgrading

58 locations selected for improvement under revised schemes

ABOUT 590 Housing Board blocks in 58 locations islandwide have been picked for the next batch of improvement works under the HDB’s recently revised upgrading schemes. Areas set to benefit include Yishun, Tampines and Hougang.

These schemes include the new Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) – unveiled last year – as well as the ongoing lift upgrading programme.

The HIP focuses on essential improvements within a flat, such as repairing spalling concrete. It also gives residents the choice of opting out of certain items to cut costs.

This scheme replaces the more extensive Main Upgrading Programme, which had been more expensive because work was done both inside and outside the flat.

Under the other new programme, the NRP, a few adjoining estates will be spruced up together, with the cost fully borne by the Government. The bigger budget involved makes it possible for larger items such as tennis courts and skating parks to be considered as part of the works.

Residents will also be consulted on how they want their estate improved.

The HDB, which said earlier that the HIP would be first done in two precincts in Yishun and Tampines, announced yesterday that it will double that number to four and include other towns in view of strong public support shown in recent surveys.

Meanwhile, eight estates have been selected for the NRP and another 52 for lift upgrading – where housing blocks are renovated to give residents lift access at every level.

The lift upgrading programme is still the mainstay of improvement works as the Government has pledged to give direct lift access to almost every block by 2014. In 2006, for example, the Government said it was selecting 70 precincts comprising 600 to 700 blocks for the programme. In 2005, it was 480 blocks in 64 precincts.

The Minister of State for National Development, Ms Grace Fu, said yesterday the Government was on track to meet the 2014 deadline.

Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng said that 16 blocks in Tampines Street 11 under her charge have been picked for lift upgrading in the latest list.

She added: ‘Many of the elderly fear becoming isolated in their flats as they find it increasingly hard to climb stairs. Over the years, some in wheelchairs had to move out of the estate, even though they loved the place, because they could not negotiate the stairs without help…’

Residents in about 70 per cent, or 3,600, of the eligible blocks have been offered lift upgrading so far.

Some estates in the latest list will have more than one type of upgrading work done at the same time to reduce inconvenience.

Six precincts comprising about 30 blocks previously picked for the Main Upgrading Programme under the old regime will also be switching to the new programmes, at the request of their MPs.

About 300,000 flats out of almost 900,000 islandwide will be eligible for the HIP, while 200,000 units can undergo work for the NRP.

Details of the specific locations of these selected precincts will be announced by their respective MPs later.

Work on this batch is expected to be completed within five years.


Source: The Straits Times 5 Feb 08

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