What to expect from the upcoming Sembawang integrated hub

Artist's impressions of the running trails, which will snake around the hub, and a fruit orchard and community garden (above). The "food forest" and fruit orchard will have edible crops such as the cocoa tree and roselle plant.

By June 2020, Sembawang residents will no longer have to go to Yishun for their daily swims or cheap meals.

Instead, a car-lite sports and community hub, with facilities such as swimming pools and a hawker centre, will spring up on a 12ha site next to Sembawang MRT station.

Yesterday, Sembawang GRC MPs held a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony for the hub, Bukit Canberra, attended by 800 residents.

"Finally, the project that some residents have been waiting a long time for is here," said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.

From left: Sembawang GRC MPs Lim Wee Kiak, Amrin Amin, Khaw Boon Wan and Ong Ye Kung (right) planting a Sembawang tree at the ground-breaking ceremony for the integrated hub yesterday.PHOTOS: SPORT SINGAPORE

The other MPs were Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, Dr Lim Wee Kiak and Mr Vikram Nair.

Led by Sport Singapore, the hub contains the country's second Town Sports and Recreation Centre under its Sports Facilities Master Plan, after Heartbeat @ Bedok.

This is a $1.5 billion project to provide citizens with greater access to a wider range of sports facilities around the country by 2030. The agency declined to give the cost of the Bukit Canberra project alone.

Unlike standalone swimming complexes or jogging tracks, such centres house multiple sports facilities under one roof.

At Bukit Canberra, facilities include an indoor sports hall with 500 seats, a 1,500 sq m ActiveSG gym - the largest yet - that can cater to all abilities, a six-lane sheltered swimming pool and an eight-lane lap pool. But beyond sports facilities, the hub will also bring together multiple services and features to give residents more chances to relax and interact with one another.

For example, there will be 3km of running trails, of various difficulties, snaking around the hub.

The park will also feature a "food forest" and "fruit orchard", with edible crops such as the cocoa tree and roselle plant. There will also be community gardens for residents to show off their green fingers.

Artist's impressions of the running trails (above), which will snake around the hub, and a fruit orchard and community garden. The "food forest" and fruit orchard will have edible crops such as the cocoa tree and roselle plant.

Integrated into the park will be heritage story boards for visitors to learn more about the area's past as a naval base, including the Former Admiralty House which used to accommodate key British military leaders based in Singapore.

There will also be plenty of healthcare options, including a polyclinic and senior care centre providing rehabilitation services as well as home-based services to frail and elderly residents.

But Mr Khaw said he hoped the new park and sports facilities would encourage residents to commit to a healthy lifestyle, so "our polyclinic will have no business".

"(The doctors') prescription will include an exercise routine. This time - no excuses," he said.

He added that he had given consultants several conditions, including minimal cutting down of trees to preserve the area's greenery, and fewer carpark spaces.

The hub will open in phases, and Phase 1 is expected to be fully operational by September 2021. A second phase, taking in the restoration of Admiralty House, will follow.

Parts of the hub were initially set to be opened by this year, but it was pushed back to flesh out the project more fully, Mr Ong had said in 2016.

Among the residents looking forward to the hub's completion was crane operator Yong Teck Kwek.

The 56-year-old said he was looking forward most to swimming in the new pools which, "at my age is easier on the joints than jogging".

Written by Rachel Au-Yong for The Straits Times