Farrer Park, a location near Rochor, is synonymous with local sports since the 1930s, will soon make way for residential development. The boxing gym, field and swimming complex which currently occupy the space will soon make way for residential development. Sport Singapore which is leasing the land will have to demolish all the structures before returning it to the state by the year 2020.
Farrer Park is a subzone of the Rochor planning area in the Central Region of Singapore, bounded by Serangoon Road, Rangoon Road, Race Course Road, Northumberland Road, Tekka Lane and Bukit Timah Road. Farrer Park remained a favourite sporting venue for decades, with the Sports House becoming the headquarters of the National Sports Promotion Board from 1971 to 1973. Several other sports associations also occupied Sports House until 1985 when it was destroyed by a fire.
The fire was a turning point for Farrer Park as many of the sports associations which were housed there relocated to National Stadium and Jalan Besar Stadium, and Sports House was never rebuilt. Soon after, Farrer Park’s popularity as a premiere sports hub took a turn for the worse.
Several HDB flats have now been constructed in the area, and a primary school has also sprung up there. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has classified Farrer Park as a subzone of the Rochor planning area. The subzone would see the development of buildings which are predominantly for commercial or mixed use in nature.
Although the existing structures at the Rochor subzone lack enough architectural merits to warrant conservation, calls are being made by sports enthusiasts to preserve the site for its historic firsts.
A letter writer to The Straits Times, Edwin Pang, noted that Singapore had “already lost a treasure trove of local sporting memorabilia and records due to a fire that destroyed Farrer Park Sports House, which housed more than 40 national sports associations, as well as the Athletic Centre, which has been demolished.”
He hopes that the existing structures in the area will be given “a second thought by the authorities for their contribution to Singapore’s sporting heritage.”
He suggested that the “boxing gym could be turned into a heritage gallery with a cafe, and the swimming complex could be expanded into a water sports and recreation community hub for the neighbourhood.”
“They serve to remind us of a time when our sportsmen made do with what little they had to train and fight hard in order to win sporting glory for our nation,” Pang said.
The former Senior Director at the Singapore Sports Hub, Jose Raymond, asked how the Government justifies the destruction and gentrification of what many consider to be part of our nation’s sporting history. He called for “city planners (to) develop around the national sports icons similar to how Matilda House in Punggol was preserved.”
He acknowledged that the development of Farrer Park may be financially sensible, but wondered if it was morally justifiable.
Being near Little India and Rochor, Farrer Park has plenty to see, eat, buy and do. It is easily accessible via Farrer Park MRT station on the North-East Line.
Within its vicinity are the Kandang Kerbau Women and Children’s Hospital, Farrer Park Hospital, and City Square Mall. It is also walking distance from the Jalan Besar neighbourhood.
Several prominent residential developments like City Square Residences and Sturdee Residences are located in the Farrer Park area.
Wong Xian Yang, Assistant Director of Research and Consultancy at OrangeTee.com, in commenting on the potential of Farrer Park previously said: “For developments within and around Farrer Park, the main selling points are their locality, and perks of being a part of the central region, such as convenience and proximity to the CBD, as this increases their ‘rentability’.”
Wong further advised investors to “consider commercial space (within the vicinity), which has been relatively unaffected by the cooling measures”.
It is unclear if the Government planners will give any heed to those that have a sense of nostalgia about Farrer Park. Regardless, any development in this Rochor subzone would be a good buy because of its central location and due to MRT connectivity. The location and connectivity may also bode well for residential prices and rentals in the area.
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