Punggol (also known as Ponggol) (officially referred to as Punggol New Town, by the Housing and Development Board) is a neighbourhood in northeastern Singapore. Presently, there are plans to turn the area into a residential new town (Punggol New Town) under the Punggol 21 initiative which has begun taking place in the southern parts of the area bordering the neighbouring Sengkang New Town.
Punggol Point or Tanjong Punggol appears as Tanjong Rangon on Franklin and Jackson's 1828 map of Singapore. Punggol, also spelt as Ponggol, means "hurling sticks at the branches of fruit trees to bring them down to the ground" in Malay. It might also indirectly refer to the Tamil word "பொங்கல்" or Pongal, a festival celebrated by Tamil Hindus on the first date of the month Thai and also a sweet made specially on that day.
The name Punggol is used in Punggol Road, Punggol New Town and its nearby facilities. The older name Ponggol is still retained in two of the street names: Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue and Ponggol Twenty-Fourth Avenue.
The Punggol area used to be a well-established rural district dotted with farmhouses and farm structures, which were serviced by roads and dirt tracks. Many of the Chinese villagers were engaged in poultry, pig or fish farming, as well as plantation and farm produce. The last pig farm closed down in 1990. Hydroponic non-pollutive vegetable farms and orchid farms used to flourish along the Cheng Lim Farmways and Buangkok Farmways, along with old kampongs and low-rise residential areas. Most of these farms have given way to the high-rise HDB flats of Sengkang New Town and Punggol New Town.
Historically, Punggol was populated mostly by Teochews and Catholics. The end of Upper Serangoon Road is known to Teochews as kangkar or "river bank" or "river mouth". Ferries were used on the Serangoon River as transport. An old market was also located here. The Catholic missionaries arrived here 140 years ago and set up churches and schools. A Malay kampong, which has since been cleared, could also be found at Tanjong Punggol. At the end of Punggol Port Road, Indonesian and Malaysian fishermen auctioned their catch at the wholesale fish market.
World War II
During the Second World War in 1942, about 400 Chinese civilians were massacred by the Japanese military forces at Punggol Point, the northern tip of the area, in what was to be known as the Punggol Beach Massacre as part of the Sook Ching Massacre. Today, that location has been marked as a national heritage site.
In the 1960s, basic amenities like piped water, electricity, paved roads, and drainage systems were introduced through government and self-help programmes. It was also at this time that television became popular and antennas could be seen installed on many kampong rooftops.
Poultry and pig farms were gradually phased out when redevelopment commenced in the 1970s. The last pig farm closed down in 1990. Land vacated by resettled farmers were then tendered out on short term leases for non-pollutive agricultural activities, which included hydroponic non-pollutive vegetable and orchid farms that used to flourish along the Cheng Lim Farmways and Buangkok Farmways. These farms existed along with old kampongs and low-rise residential areas. Most of these farms have given way to the high-rise HDB flats of Sengkang New Town and Punggol New Town.
In his National Day Rally speech on 18 August 1996, then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong announced the Singapore Government's plan to develop Punggol, known as "Punggol 21". Punggol 21 was a new model for housing Punggol, which would feature a new concept in housing as a model for new towns in the 21st century. It would have a mix of private houses, executive condominiums, and high-grade HDB flats grouped into smaller, distinctly designed estates. Each estate would contain between 1,200 and 2,800 units, with a common neighbourhood green. Every housing unit would be located within 300 metres of the nearest LRT station. Schools, libraries, and community clubs would be clustered for convenience, and there would be three commercial centres, including shopping centres.
A few months after the speech, Punggol 21, which was part of Cheng San Group Representation Constituency then, became an election carrot for the People's Action Party (PAP) to beat a Workers' Party team led by J.B. Jeyaretnam and Tang Liang Hong. At the general election in 1997, the five-man PAP team managed to retain Cheng San GRC with 54.8% of the valid votes.
However, Punggol 21 did not materialise fully as Singapore's economy was affected by the Asian economic crisis in 1997. Although construction began the next year, it was stopped when demand for new flats fell sharply. Plans were again delayed when the construction industry in Singapore experienced financial troubles in 2003. As a result, only some 16,000 flats, out of the 80,000 planned units, have been built as at 2007. There is only one shopping mall in the estate, Punggol Plaza, and there are no recreational facilities like cinemas or swimming pools.
In his National Day Rally speech on 19 August 2007, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered a new vision for Punggol New Town, and introduced the "Punggol 21-plus" plan to re-vitalise the town.
Under the new plan, Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon, which flank the town, will be dammed up to create a freshwater lake and serve as a reservoir. A 4.2-kilometre long, 20-30-metre wide man-made waterway will run through the estate, linking both rivers. Work on it will start in 2009, and had been completed on 26 October 2011. When built, there will be recreational facilities like water sports for kayaking and canoeing, gardens and parks with jogging and cycling tracks, rooftop gardens, eateries for al-fresco dining and a floating island.
The "Punggol 21-plus" project involves 18,000 new HDB and private flats, and about 3,000 new flats will be built in Punggol New Town every year. Punggol New Town is projected to have 96,000 units when fully developed in the long term. Waterfront housing will have stepped courtyards. There will be a promenade on the northern sea front, stretching about 8.7 km. An integrated waterfront commercial and residential development has also been planned at the town centre, which will be built on both banks of the waterway. The site for this project was put up for sale and named Waterway Point with condominium - Watertown. There will also be other facilities within the town centre, which includes a community club, regional library and hawker centre in the future. Before General Election 2011, residents were assured that the hawker center will be build at the plot of land between Punggol MRT and Foguan Shan. It had since quietly change the plot of land to "reserved for future high rise development".
Punggol has six neighbourhoods, but in the Land Use Plan 2030, it was revamped into seven districts. They are Matilda District, Waterway West District, Northshore District, Waterway East District, Punggol Point District, Canal District and Crescent District. There will also be a mega-downtown at Punggol called Punggol Downtown.
Urban development into the area has been accelerated with the introduction of better transportational options. The Tampines Expressway (TPE) links Punggol New Town up with Singapore's expressway network. The Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway, which provides a direct route to the city area via TPE, was fully opened in September 2008. New roads were also built to ease traffic congestion on Punggol Road. It always heavily jam in the morning hours where there are only 2 way out towards TPE.
In terms of public transport, the opening of the North-East Line on 20 June 2003, the Punggol LRT Line on 29 January 2005, and the temporary Punggol Bus Interchange adjacent to the Punggol MRT Station on 30 November 2003 was an improvement over what was once only a single bus route, SBS Transit's Service 82, serving the area along Punggol Road. SBS need to improve waiting time for Service 34 as waiting time can be 8 to 12 minutes during non peak hour and 6 minutes during peak hour.
- Punggol Plaza
Strategically located near Coral Edge LRT Station, Punggol Plaza is currently the only shopping mall in Punggol New Town. Opened in September 2004, it offers residents the convenience of fulfilling all their marketing needs at one place, with an NTUC FairPrice supermarket located on the third floor of the plaza and a food court operated by Koufu on the ground floor. There are also clinics offering general practitioner and specialist medical services. Free shuttle services between Punggol Plaza and Sengkang New Town have been provided since September 2004.
- Waterway Point
On October 25, 2012, a new waterfront mall, Waterway Point was announced to be built. Jointly developed with Far East Organization and Sekisui House, the mall which is part of the S$1.6 billion new Watertown development, will serve as the main shopping mall for residents of Punggol New Town once completed in 2015.
- Punggol Waterway Park
Punggol Waterway Park is a riverine park located along the Punggol Waterway. Opened in October 2011, the park is designed with four themes to cater to residents of all ages. It also provides residents opportunities for leisure activities such as jogging and cycling which can be carried out along the promenade at both sides of the waterway.
- Safra Punggol Clubhouse
Located near Punggol Waterway Park, the Safra Punggol Clubhouse is a five storey recreational facility. Announced to be built in June 2014, the clubhouse which caters to mainly NS men and their families will feature an indoor water playground, as well as a large eco-themed childcare centre. Scheduled to be completed in 2016, the clubhouse will house 10 F&B outlets such as themed restaurants, alfresco dining and quick-service outlets.
There are currently six primary schools and three secondary schools in Punggol New Town.
- Primary schools
- Edgefield Primary School (育德小学), Edgefield Primary School originally opened in January 2001 but could not attract enough students to make even one class. It opened in January 2002
- Greendale Primary School  (绿苑小学), Greendale Primary School was one of the six new primary schools built in new housing estates and towns so as to cater to smaller class size
- Mee Toh School (弥陀学校), Mee Toh School moved from Race Course Road to Punggol New Town in January 2005
- Horizon Primary School, Opened in 2012.
- Punggol Green Primary School, Opened in 2013, Punggol Green Primary will be serving the Punggol West community. It is located at 98 Punggol Walk, next to Punggol Sapphire and Punggol Ripples.
- Punggol View Primary School (培林小学), Opened in 2013, Punggol View Primary operates as a single-session school so as to commit more space and time for holistic education.
- Secondary schools
- Greendale Secondary School 绿苑中学
- Punggol Secondary School 培道中学
- Edgefield Secondary School (育德中学), Edgefield Secondary School opened in January 2011
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- Jasmine Yin (20 August 2007). "The whole country will be transformed". Today. p. 6.
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- The west loop of the Sengkang LRT Line opened on the same day: Christopher Tan (11 January 2005). "Punggol LRT set to roll". The Straits Times.
- The S$1.9-million temporary Punggol Bus Interchange, which took 10 months to construct, was opened on 30 November 2003 by Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Teo Chee Hean: "Punggol residents get bus interchange". The Straits Times. 1 December 2003.
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- Pei Dao Secondary School was re-named Punggol Secondary School when it was relocated to Punggol New Town in 2001: "Punggol Secondary School: History". Punggol Secondary School. 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2003). Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press. ISBN 981-210-205-1.
- Tommy Koh, et al. (eds.) (2006). Singapore: The Encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board. ISBN 981-4155-63-2.
- "Transcript of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally English Speech on 19 August 2007 at NUS University Cultural Centre". Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Singapore). 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Punggol.|
- Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council
- Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Town Portal
- Punggol History and Community updates
- Punggol News