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Neighbourhood Estate Guide: Why Woodlands Can Be The Star Destination Of The North

Woodlands: Star destination of the North


Following up on our series of Neighbourhood Round-up articles to showcase each town for its charm and attractiveness as a place to work, live and play, we highlight Woodlands in this article.

For those interested, you can refer to our past guides on Tanjong Pagar and Sengkang.

No longer just a place to go to travel across the Causeway, Woodlands has been slowly but quietly developing into an all-rounded place for Singaporeans to stay. Read on to find out how affordable housing prices, established amenities, and a slew of upcoming developments make Woodlands the star of the North.

History

Located in the north-west of the country, Woodlands is among the top 4 biggest towns in Singapore. With a population size of over 250,000, it is quite densely populated for a non-mature town.

The beginnings of Woodlands can be traced back to the opening of the Johor – Singapore Causeway in 1923. It took shape as a farming community of mainly rubber and poultry before its post-independence transformation. The first HDB flats were built in 1972 in the northern part of Marsiling. However, the formation of Woodlands as a town truly took shape from the 1980s once the Woodlands Bus Interchange was built.

The town is divided into four neighbourhoods consisting of Woodlands (located at the centre, northeast and west of Woodlands Town), Marsiling (located west and southwest of Woodlands Square), Woodgrove (located south of Woodlands Square), and Admiralty (located East from Woodlands Square).

Business Activity

Though most Singaporeans may not associate Woodlands as a place of commercial activity, it used to be bustling with scores of “Bas Pekerja” or “Bus Workers” flooding the streets of Woodlands, carrying Malaysian workers to and fro from the many factories located in Woodlands. However, over time, as the businesses changed, the demographics of the workers also started to change with lower reliance on Malaysian factory workers.

Under the new URA master plan, Woodlands is set to undergo a major transformation with the development of the Woodlands Regional Centre, turning it into a key commercial hub of the North. The development will have about 700,000 sqm of commercial space and will provide 100,000 new job opportunities, moving in tandem with the government’s initiative to bring jobs closer to homes.

In addition to the development of the commercial clusters, the mixed-use business cluster in Woodlands North Coast will be also be designed for the needs of both SMEs and MNCs to allow for more flexible work spaces, encouraging experimentation and innovation.

These plans which will be executed in phases over a span of 15 years, will revamp Woodlands Central to a more appealing, vibrant and well-connected environment for companies in the business services, science and technology and the food and agri-tech sectors.

Accessibility

First and foremost, let’s talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to accessibility to and from Woodlands. Its far! (period). The only time most of us would consider going to Woodlands is when we have to cross the causeway.

On that front, accessibility to Johor is set to be enhanced greatly with the Rapid Transit System link (RTS) project. Expected to be completed by end-2026, it will ferry around 288,000 people daily. When completed, it will only take around five minutes to travel from Woodlands North station to Bukit Chagar, Johor. Furthermore, with the passengers having to go through Immigration clearance only once at the point of departure, the RTS project will provide easy, fast and comfortable access to people traveling across the Malaysia- Singapore border. With the cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project in Jurong, Woodlands will become the focal point for land border crossings.

Residents in Woodlands are connected to the rest of the island via the North-South Line (NSL) and the upcoming Thomson-East Coast line (TEL). When fully completed, residents in Woodlands can expect a journey time of only 35mins from Woodlands South to Orchard compared to the current traveling time of 50 minutes, taking the train and bus. Furthermore, it will give residents another option of traveling to the Eastern regions, such as to Marine Parade and Bedok South which were previously not accessible by train.

Woodlands is also well served by a network of roads with around 12 main roads linking to the town. The notable ones are Avenues 2, 3,7 and 12. Woodlands Avenue 2 and 12 link motorists to the Seletar Expressway (SLE), Woodlands Avenue 3 links motorist to the causeway and to the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE), whereas Woodlands Avenue 7 connects to Admiralty and Gambas Avenue. Like the other developments in Woodlands, the road network is also undergoing major upgrades.

The North-South Corridor, which is expected to be completed in 2026, will be Singapore’s longest Transit Priority Corridor, featuring bus lanes, cycling trunk routes and pedestrian paths. When completed, the 21.5km corridor will directly connect the Northern region and the city centre. It will alleviate traffic on the Central Expressway (CTE) and major arterial roads such as Thomson and Marymount road. Furthermore, with the dedicated and continuous bus lanes, commuters can expect to save around 10 – 15 minutes of their travelling time.

With the construction of these transport nodes, the journey to and from Woodlands would become shorter and be less of a hassle as it is now.

Housing

With an estimated 62,675 dwelling units already built in Woodlands and a projected ultimate target of 98,000 dwelling units, there is something for everyone here in Woodlands, be it the rental, resale or the Built-To-Order (BTO) market.

For those looking at the private market, there are only slightly more than a handful of private condominium projects in Woodlands. Unlike other towns, these are mainly located at Woodgrove (Woodlands Avenue 1). This is also where a small cluster of landed units can be found, which houses mainly expats from the nearby Singapore American School (SAS). Likewise, for those seeking an Executive Condominium (EC) unit, Woodlands may not offer as many choices though there is certainly a handful of old and new ECs to choose from.

Housing in Woodlands is mainly made up of HDB flats and it is usually seen as being relatively affordable due to its location and fewer value-accrediting amenities. Moreover, with a non-mature town status, BTO flats are also priced affordably compared to other towns.

We shall first compare the affordability of public (HDB) housing in Woodlands, by looking at the median prices achieved for the 3rd Quarter 2020 of Woodlands compared across all towns in Singapore.

HDB Resale Housing Price

HDB Resale Housing Price (2nd Quarter of 2020)
Location 3 – room 4 – room 5 – room Executive
Woodlands Median Price 255,000 350,000 425,000 580,000
Median Price Range For All Towns In Singapore (Lowest – Highest) 250,000 – 375,000

 

350,000 – 710,000 410,000 – 842,500 480,000 – 730,000

Source: HDB

Based on the average HDB resale prices, the 3-room, 4-room and 5-room category of flats are within the lowest average price range recorded. For the Executive category, the average prices recorded in Woodlands are slightly above 20% higher than the lowest average prices recorded in the other towns.

Woodlands BTO Applicate Rate  

The table below shows the application rate of the recently launched BTO projects in Woodlands.

Project Flat size No of Units Number of applicants Application rate
Elderly Non-Elderly Overall
First timers Second timers Singles
Woodlands Champion Bliss / UrbanVille@Wdls 2 – room 846 2198 2.0 0.6 0.6 5.5 2.6
UrbanVille@Wdls 3 – room 144 896 3.6 12.5 6.2
Woodlands Champion Bliss / UrbanVille@Wdls 4 – room 706 4125 4.9 11.2 5.8
Woodlands Champion Bliss / UrbanVille@Wdls 5 – room 438 4297 6.8 26.8 9.8

Source: HDB

From the table above, we can see there is a high application rate from both the first-timers and HDB upgraders. What we can glean from this applicate rate is that there is a strong interest in Woodlands. Moreover, the strong demand from upgraders shows that the HDB prices in Woodlands are not only affordable but are also seen to be of good investment potential.

Education

The biggest concern of any parent would be ensuring they can get a school for their child(ren). Whether it is for a playgroup or to pre-tertiary, some parents would even take the effort to move closer to a school of choice so that their child(ren) can get the best education possible. As such, this is an important criterion in any town.

Source: ECDA

There are plenty of choices from both private and government funded childcare centres in and around Woodlands, with over 104 centres. We have to say this caveat here, though there might be many childcare centres, this does not assure you will get a place of your choice and at that time you need it.

As your child grows up, the next phase in life is primary school education. This is the only time, where the location of your home, matters. The highest priority is given to children living within 1km of the school, second priority is given to children living up to 2km and the lowest priority given to children living outside 2km of the school. There are over 12 primary schools in Woodlands and they are listed here for easy reference. Otherwise, you can also use the primary school finder to search for the nearest schools within your home.

MOE Primary School
No Name of School Location
1 Admiralty Primary School 11 Woodlands Circle
2 Evergreen Primary School 31 Woodlands Circle
3 Fuchun Primary School 23 Woodlands Avenue 1
4 Greenwood Primary School 11 Woodlands Dr 62
5 Innova Primary School 80 Woodlands Drive 17
6 Marsiling Primary School 31 Woodlands Centre Road
7 Qihua Primary School 5 Woodlands Street 81
8 Riverside Primary School 110 Woodlands Crescent
9 Si Ling Primary School 61 Woodlands Avenue 1
10 Woodgrove Primary School 2 Woodlands Drive 14
11 Woodlands Primary School 10 Woodlands Drive 50
12 Woodlands Ring Primary School 11 Woodlands Ring Road

Source: Primary School Finder

Apart from the primary schools, there is also a good selection of secondary schools within Woodlands, making it a convenient town for parents to raise their child(ren). In addition to the pre-tertiary institutions, there is also one tertiary institution in the form of Republic Polytechnic, where even adult learners can enroll for short term courses or Skillsfuture diplomas courses under their lifelong learning programme.

MOE Secondary School
No Name of School Location
1 Admiralty Secondary School 31 Woodlands Crescent
2 Christ Church Secondary School 20 Woodlands Drive 17
3 Evergreen Secondary School 11 Woodlands Street 83
4 Fuchun Secondary School 21 Woodlands Avenue 1
5 Marsiling Secondary School 12 Marsiling Road
6 Riverside Secondary School 3 Woodlands Street 81
7 Singapore Sports School 1 Champions Way
8 Spectra Secondary School 1 Woodlands Drive 64
9 Woodgrove Secondary School 3 Woodlands Avenue 6
10 Woodlands Ring Secondary School 10 Woodlands Ring Road
11 Woodlands Secondary School 11 Marsiling Road
Tertiary
1 Republic Polytechnic 9 Woodlands Avenue 9

 

In short, as a town, Woodlands does well in terms of offering residents a good mix of schools at all levels.

Recreation

When it comes to recreation, most would only think of Woodlands as a gateway to Johor, a shopping and food paradise for locals.

However, for the residents of Woodlands, they can also look forward to the Causeway Point Shopping Mall and the Admiralty Park for their recreational needs. The Causeway Point Mall is the biggest mall in Woodlands and over the weekends, it can easily rival any malls in the city, in terms of crowd density. With a good mix of food and shopping outlets, it is a Mall patronized by all ages and walks of life.

For nature lovers, the Admiralty Park offers the best form of leisure as they can enjoy the flora and fauna at the largest park in the north. The park is also home to 26 slides, which coincidently is also the park with the greatest number of slides in Singapore. If physical activity is exhausting, then one can take a lazy stroll down the Woodlands Jetty at the waterfront park where you can be treated to an occasional sighting of wild monkeys.

It may not be the hippest and happening place to be, however, it does offer a mix of tranquillity and vibrant activities to keep the weekends filled.

Master plan 2019 to Concept Plan 2030

Finally, we turn to the Master Plan 2019 to glean more information on the future developments in Woodlands. There are six new developments slated for the residents in Woodland town.

Woodlands West – the Woodlands Town Garden located in Marsiling will be upgraded and expanded into a new “Discovery Playground” and will be renamed as Marsiling Park. Residents can enjoy a new playground and garden and learn about the history of the area at the heritage corner.

Woodlands South – a new integrated healthcare complex called the Woodlands Health Campus will be opened in phases starting from 2022. This new Wellness Haven will include a new acute care hospital, community hospital and a long-term care facility.

Woodlands East – next to the Admiralty MRT station, residents can enjoy the recently built Community Nexus (Kampung Admiralty), which is a cluster of facilities, serving as a one-stop convenience and public space. Some of these facilities include a medical centre, eldercare, childcare and a hawker centre amongst other retail outlets, under one roof. Additionally, the neighbourhood satellite mall, Admiralty Place Mall is also undergoing renovation works to improve its facilities. Apart from the wet market, the mall will be fully air-conditioned and will be occupied by food and beverage outlets and education centres.

Linking Woodlands East and West – the existing park connector will be enhanced with lush greenery and new community nodes to create a social corridor where residents will have the opportunity to create meaningful bonds through interactions.

Heart of Woodlands – it consists of the new regional centre and the Woodlands North Coast. Coined as the northern gem, the Woodlands regional centre is envisaged to be an urban hub that will comprise of commuting networks, amenities and public spaces such as the town plaza. Additionally, residents can expect more landmark housing development along the Woodlands North Coast as it is designed to be an urban window framing the view to the developments in the North.

Connecting Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast – a 1.9km scenic route called WoodsVista Gallery will form a seamless community link from Woodlands MRT station to the new waterfront area in the north, connecting to other destinations such as the Republic Polytechnic and Admiralty Regional Park.

There are plenty of developments slated to be completed in Woodlands in the coming years. Such developments improve the liveability and attractiveness of the town. These factors do indicate Woodlands as an undervalued gem.

Summary

Criteria Ratings Remarks
Pedigree Average A town mainly thought of as the gateway between Malaysia and Singapore. It is predominately been a residential town with a few SMEs and manufacturing companies operating around the area.
Accessibility Average As a town, it is well connected by bus and rail services. However, to reach other parts of the island the average journey time may take longer than 30 minutes. However, this is set to improve with the new RTS project, TEL and NS Corridor.
Affordability Very Good In terms of public housing, the average prices in Woodlands are amongst the lowest across the rest of the other towns. Therefore, it is definitely one of the more affordable towns in Singapore.
Schools Above Average There are plenty of options when comes to education centres at all levels leading up from pre-tertiary to tertiary institutions.
Recreation Good May not be the one-stop destination when it comes to recreation. However, it does offer some nature-based recreation options such as the Admiralty Park and Marsiling Park and a well-patronized Neighbourhood Mall (Causeway Point) that serves all ages and walks of life.
Investment Potential Very Good Given the low property prices in Woodlands, there are plenty of upside potential as the town is rejuvenated with new amenities and value accrediting projects such as the Woods Square and Regional Centre are undertaken to transform Woodlands as the Northern Gem. This would attract more commerce activities and homeowners to the town.

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