Woodlands: History

11 March 2007

In 1903, the first Singapore-Kranji railway from Tank Road to Woodlands was opened. The rail was later extended to Johor Bahru on the Malaysian Peninsular when the Causeway was built in 1923.

Construction of the causeway started in 1919 and it is opened to trains in 1923. The causeway was formally opened by Governor Sir Laurence Guillemard on 28 June 1924, allowing through passenger and goods trains carrying rubber, tin, palm oil and copra. The granite fill came from quarries at Mandai and Pulau Ubin. There are also large pipes which supply water to Singapore from the abstraction works in Johor. The Causeway was blown up in 1942 to slow down Japanese advancement and repairs were done after the war.

Woodlands New Town
Planned to be part of the Ring Development proposed by the State and City Planning Concept Plan, Housing & Development Board (HDB) started the development of Woodlands New Town in 1970. Being the first new town to be developed outside the suburban boundary, consideration has been given to its relationship to the overall island development in mass transit system, road network, distribution of existing and proposed industries and dispersal of population. Because of its distance from the city centre, the town would be relatively self-sufficient and independent of the city proper. Employment and essential facilities will be available within the town.

Relatively unencumbered by existing structures, planning of the new town take advantage of the gently rolling terrain whenever possible. Like Queenstown, Toa Payoh and Telok Blangah, residential planning is based on the neighbourhood concept. Each neighbourhood will accommodate a population sufficient enough to support basic community and shopping facilities within walking distance.

As the largest new town to be developed by the board at that time and due to its bold experimental nature, Woodlands will be developed over a period of time depending on demand. Stage 1 development, consisting of Neighbourhood 1, Neighbourhood 2 and the town centre, started in 1970 with 1,300 units of flats completed at the end of 1972.

This was followed by Stage 2 development, consisting of Neighbourhood 1 extension, Neighbourhood 3, Neighbourhood 4 and Neighbourhood 8. Due to its distance from the city, accessibility, and myths of a Malaysia attack, demand for flats in Woodlands is extremely low despite its low selling price. Thus many blocks of 3 or 4 room flats in the Stage 2 development are converted into 6, 7 or even 8 room flats selling at very low value. Other blocks are also upgraded with better landscaping and facilities. The low demand for flats in Stage 2 explains the slow development of the town.

However, the opening of Woodlands MRT extension in 1992, extension of Seletar Expressway (SLE) to Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) and plans of developing Woodlands into a regional centre for the North Region leads to the commencement of Stage 3 development in the mid 1990s. Stage 3 development comprises Neighbourhood 5, Neighbourhood 6, Neighbourhood 7 and Neighbourhood 8 extension. The overall rise of properties pricing in other towns in the mid 1990s do contribute to a rise in demand for housing in Woodlands.

Slowly, over 3 decades, Woodlands is finally taking shape as one of the largest New Town in Singapore. The town takes 32 years (the longest in town development) to be completely developed in 2002. Plus, there is still ample space for extension and future development.


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