End of Era for Normanton Park, and other HUDC Estates

The Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) scheme was started in 1974 to suit the aspiration of the middle-income residents in owning private homes, and to give the owners more control in the management and maintenance of their properties.

Construction of HUDC flats began in 1975, and in the next 12 years, a total of 7,731 units in 18 HUDC estates were built. Four stages of development were carried out, with Phase I and II built and managed by HUDC Private Limited, followed by Phase III and IV, handled by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) after 1982. The HUDC scheme lasted until 1987 and was eventually phased out due to declining demands.

In 1995, the government gave the go-ahead for the privatisation of HUDC estates. A year later, Gillman Heights and Pine Grove became the first HUDC estates to be privatised. Gillman Heights was then sold for $548 million in 2009; its former site now replaced by The Interlace. Meanwhile, the 660-unit Pine Grove, located near Ulu Pandan Road, has been attempting for collective sale in 2008, 2011 and 2017, but without successes. In 2007, Farrer Court clinched the sale record for a HUDC estate when it was sold for a $1.3 billion.

Normanton Park was an unique HUDC estate, built in 1977 exclusively for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel and their families. Located near Kent Ridge Park, its residents had enjoyed many years of serenity and splendid views of vast areas of greenery around their estate.

Made up of 13 blocks and 488 units, completed with amenities such as swimming pool, tennis courts and kindergarten, the estate was sold to SAF officers at prices ranging from $37,000, for high rise units, to $65,000 for the walk-up apartments.

Officially opened in April 1978 by former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Goh Keng Swee, the building of Nornanton Park was intended to provide SAF officers a decent and low-cost condominium-like housing. It was one of the Defence Ministry’s many ways of fostering camaraderie among the officer corps.

Normanton Park was not the first housing estate where an organisation’s colleagues became neighbours. Since 1972, government and statutory boards had started their own housing schemes with the view of retaining civil servants and employees in service. Other similar examples included the Farrer Road’s executive flats for Housing and Development Board (HDB) staffs, and the Spottiswoode Park flats for Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) employees.

Normanton Park added a new neighbour in the early eighties, when the Singapore Science Park, the nation’s new technology corridor, was developed.

Privatised with the status of a condominium in 2012, Normanton Park was put up for collective sale twice, first in 2015 and then again in 2017. The 40-year-old estate was eventually sold for $830 million in the second sale bid. By October 2018, most of Normanton Park’s residents had vacated the premises.

In recent years, there was a flurry of collective sales for HUDC estates. Between 2016 and 2018, Shunfu Ville, Raintree Gardens, Rio Casa, Serangoon Ville, Florence Regency, Eunosville, Tampines Court and Chancery Court were sold.

The demolition of the 34-year-old Raintree Gardens, located at Potong Pasir, and Shunfu Ville, built in 1986 at Shunfu Road off Marymount Road, kicked off between early and mid-2018. The two HUDC estates were sold for $334 million and $638 million respectively, after their privatisation in 2013 and 2014. Raintree Gardens and Shunfu Ville’s former sites will be redeveloped for new private residences named The Tre Ver and Jade Scape.

Meanwhile, another HUDC estate Eunosville has been hoarded up and is ready for demolition. One of the last HUDC estates built before the phasing out of the HUDC scheme in 1987, Eunosville, located between the parallel Sims Avenue and Changi Road, had 10 low-rise blocks and 330 units. It was sold in 2017 for $766 million, and in its place will be a new private residential development called Parc Esta.

The history of HUDC was not without controversy. In the late seventies, the angry buyers of Amberville sued the company for their revised plan to build a 13-storey block which would deprive the owners of their panoramic views of the sea, which was the original selling point of new HUDC estate. Others were also unhappy with payment issues using the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and subsequent price hikes in the maintenance fees.

In March 2017, the 918-unit Braddell View became the last HUDC to be privatised, marking the end of the HUDC era that spanned over four decades. Currently, there are five HUDC estates – Pine Grove, Ivory Heights, Lakeview, Laguna Park and Braddell View – that have not been sold and redeveloped. It will be another chapter in Singapore’s housing history when the day finally arrives for the complete ceasing of existence of HUDC estates.

Published: 12 November 2018

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