The forest behind Takashimaya

The Sunday Times today reports a wish list by the Orchard Road Business Association, or Orba (“Orchard Road businesses’ wish list” by Jessica Lim and Lim Yi Han).

No. 1 on the list is:

To introduce a park with event space to be developed in the 2 ha plot – a state-owned forested area – behind Ngee Ann City.

We’ve noticed that curious forest patch as well. If my memory serves me correctly, it’s dominated by fast-growing exotics such as albizia, acacia, and the African tulip, but I also have the impression that I saw native pioneers such as Macaranga spp. there.

“The idea is to upgrade the public spaces along Orchard Road and push the street to become a truly world-class destination,” said Orba director Steven Goh “It is easy to sell land and to develop more commercial areas. But these won’t enhance Orchard Road.”

“Parks, museums, event spaces – these are the missing elements on Orchard Road…”

It would be great Orchard Road gets a piece of accessible nature like that of Tampines Eco-green. But it would be tragic (but typical) if all that wild vegetation gets bulldozed and replaced with cultivated trees and manicured lawns, and becomes hailed as another Eco-something or something-Green. If so, any wildlife currently making use of the forest patch would lose their resource and never have a reason come back again to Orchard Road.

And yet, the Orba obviously wants “event space”, so it is unlikely that they will be happy with it being kept as wild as possible.

Given the value of the land, perhaps even a highly artificial open park would not be feasible. A consultant when interviewed:

Adding that the plot of land behind Ngee Ann City is likely to have a value of more than $1 billion, he said: “It is unlikely to be turned into a park. It is too valuable and there are too many competing uses.” The 2 ha plot is zoned for residential use.

That is, condominiums.

People from the street say:

…”The idea of a park is good, it wold be good to have more greenery instead of more shopping malls. The malls are all duplicates anyway.”

…she poured cold water on the ideas for road closures and a park.

“It is not feasible to have a park here, because people do not associate parks and gardens with Orchard Road. It is a shopping paradise,” she said…”

Hellooo, Orchard Road? So, where are the fruit trees that you associate with orchards?

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