Hougang condo to retain 9 trees instead of chopping them down for cycling path after residents' feedback

Five of 14 large trees have already been cut down.

Ashley Tan | May 30, 2023, 01:12 PM

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UPDATE on Jun. 3 at 9pm: This article has been updated with a statement from LTA.

The decision to fell a number of trees along the street by a condominium in Hougang to make way for a cycling path previously caused a ruckus among residents.

It seems that their voices were heard — the condominium has heeded residents' concerns, and have since opted to retain the trees instead.

Photo from Ed Bkl / FB

Some trees already chopped down

The Florence Residences previously had plans to cut down 14 trees along Hougang Ave 2 on May 15.

This was to facilitate the installation of lampposts for a new cycling path.

One resident, Priscilla Lim, who was the first to voice her discontent with this decision in a Facebook post, shared that the trees had been standing there for over 30 years.

Additionally, she highlighted in the comments section of the post that this move contradicted Singapore's plan to plant a million trees islandwide by the end of 2030.

When Shin Min Daily News went down that day, it reported that five of the 14 tagged trees had already been felled.

Photo from Ed Bkl / FB

New notice

On May 25, a resident posted a photo of a new notice put out by the condominium's developer, Florence Development Pte Ltd.

The developer stated that since putting up its previous notice about their decision to cut down the trees, they had received feedback from residents and the public requesting for the trees to be retained.

It also stated that retaining the trees would complement the condominium's "biophilic" concept.

"At the same time, it is also our hope to be able to preserve as many trees as possible as we believe that the greenery outside our [condominium's] boundary is an extension of the biophilic concept in our development."

As such, it has instructed its contractor not to move forward with the removal of the nine remaining trees.

The developer stated that it is currently working with NParks and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on an "alternative arrangement" for the cycling path.

Photo from Ed Bkl / FB

LTA told Mothership on Jun. 3 that The Florence Residences developer had earlier planned to fell the nine trees to lay pipes to enclose the wiring for the lighting of a proposed cycling path.

LTA stated that this was not indicated earlier in the plans submitted to them for approval.

LTA and NParks recently met the developer to study lighting options, and have provided assistance to find a solution without having to remove the nine trees.

The revised plan taps on LTA’s existing street lighting infrastructure in the area and will not require removing trees to lay new power cables.

NParks reviews such requests

The National Parks Board's (NParks) group director of streetscape, Oh Cheow Sheng, told Mothership on May 19 that the removal of some trees had been approved by the agency in March 2020.

In May 2023, the developer submitted a new proposal to remove additional trees along Florence Road to enhance the cycling path and associated lighting.

The developer then placed signages on the trees that were to be chopped down to inform residents about the proposed plans.

Oh said that whenever NParks receives applications for tree removal, it will review the development plans to determine if there is a need.

NParks also explores the possibility of retaining the trees through design and engineering solutions without impacting the overall health and structural integrity of the trees.

If any tree has to be removed, NParks will assess if it is suitable for transplanting and identify appropriate transplanting locations.

Three trees will be planted for every tree that is removed, and this planting will be carried out in a tiered planting structure to enhance ecological connectivity and cool down the area.

Top photo from Ed Bkl / FB