Tranquil nature of Seletar Camp to be retained for aerospace hub

From The Strait Times by Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent 27th June 07

Seletar gets ready for makeover as aerospace hub. 204 black and whites will be saved.

THE blueprint for the multi-million dollar makeover of the sleepy surroundings of Seletar Airport into a major aerospace hub was unveiled yesterday. The new Seletar Aerospace Park will have a bigger airport and a longer runway, to handle larger aircraft. New roads, better infrastructure and more than 100 football fields of space will also be available to the cluster of companies that design and manufacture aircraft components and small jets, as well as run training schools.

The park will be developed at a cost of more than $60 million. When completed by 2018, it will create 10,000 jobs and help double the output of Singapore's fast-growing aerospace sector, from last year's record $6.3 billion. The need for the park was clear, said Mr Leong Hong Yew, JTC Corporation's deputy director for industrial development (East). Aerospace activities are now carried out in Loyang and Changi North, but space is fast running out there, he explained.

In finalising the masterplan for Seletar, however, his team retained, as much as possible, the idyllic, tranquil nature of the area with its more than 300 black-and-white colonial bungalows, old trees and open fields. He said: 'This is not going to be another run-of-the-mill industrial park.' Of the 378 black-and-white bungalows in the area, 204 will be retained. Some will be converted into aerospace training schools and food and beverage outlets, while 131 units will be set aside for residential use.

He said: 'The houses will be retained and conserved so the ambience of the environment is maintained.' For the same reason, more than 30 distinctive trees will not be cut down, he said.
The plans have been received well by industry, with one-fifth of the 120ha set aside for commercial use already booked.

The first few tenants are expected to move in to their new premises in October, said Mr Leong.
Among the front runners are Singapore Technologies Aerospace and Jet Aviation, both with plans to expand their current facilities at Seletar. For Jet Aviation, the location and timing made sense. Vice-president and general manager for Asia, Mr Michael Sattler, said: 'Singapore is a very good location and offers many advantages. The upcoming integrated resorts are also expected to attract more corporate and business jets here.'

Residents in the area were also briefed on the plans last night. For some families there was good news, as they were told their homes were not affected and they will have the option to extend their current leases which expire at the end of next year, for a further two years.
After that, it will be up to the Singapore Land Authority which owns the land, to decide on future plans for the area.

The rest will have to move out when their leases expire next year. There was some excitement at Seletar Base Golf Course where the briefing was held, when a few residents including children, turned up with signs protesting against the plans. But it ended without incident. Sales manager Jacqueline Tan, 38, who will have to move out of Seletar after living there for three years, will miss the greenery and close neighbours. She said: 'This place is unique... You can't find a place like this in Singapore. It's also a very close-knit community here. Everyone knows everyone.'

It was a reponse Mr Leong had anticipated. 'We tried our best to balance the needs of industry and community, and at the same time attempted to integrate the surroundings of the area into the plan... But there will be some who will not be happy,' he said.