Friday, May 18, 2012

Hillview HDB Estate

In the early 1970s, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced the building of a new Bukit Batok Estate that would "serve as an extension of Princess Elizabeth Estate". This was long before the construction of the later Bukit Batok New Town that would be carved out of the rural Jurong area.

When completed, the  Bukit Batok estate was renamed Hillview Estate. It was located adjacent to the old SIT Princess Elizabeth Estate, along Hillview Avenue, off Upper Bukit Timah Road. Hillview Estate comprised 13 blocks of flats, with a food centre, a wet market, a new community centre and a row of 2 storey shophouses. These were constructed between 1975 and 1978.



The design of the HDB flats was of the then standard slab block type comprising 3 and 4 room flats. In addition, there were three 20-storey blocks of 5 room flats which had a good vista of Bukit Gombak, Dairy Farm or Bukit Timah Hill. A planned block (blk #9) of 2-room flats was never built.

The Hillview Estate (centre) as seen from Bukit Gombak/ Jalan Gumilang.
The low rise buildings in the middle background is Dairy Farm Condo over across Upp Bukit Timah Road.
Fuyong Estate is at the top right, on the slope of Bukit Timah Hill ridge.


The building of the new Hillview Estate actually hastened the demise of the older Princess Elizabeth estate. The government's focus then was on home ownership and P.E.E. residents were encouraged to purchase flats at Hillview Estate instead of relying on rental from the HDB. Rent for a SIT flat at that time was between $24 to $46 a month! However, government policy at that time was home ownership and thus, as residents slowly moved away, the old SIT flats were mothballed and not released for further leases.

The shopkeepers and market stall vendors at the old P.E. Estate were given options to move into the new wet market or HDB shophouse at Hillview Estate. Sadly, this migration left P.E.Estate looking somewhat like a ghost town by the mid 1980s when all the P.E. residents were finally evicted and offered alternative homes at Bukit Gombak.

Hillview Estate itself lasted till 1995 when it was placed under the biggest HDB SERS* relocation plan. The entire estate was to be demolished and residents were moved enbloc to new HDB homes at Bukit Batok New Town. (*SERS= Selective Enbloc Relocation Scheme)

The new apartment blocks at Bukit Batok New Town where the Hillview residents were relocated enbloc.


I had relatives in 4 families living at Hillview at that time and I know that there were lots of unhappiness over the SERS program. Many residents felt betrayed as they were promised new amenities and improvements to their estate by politicians. Instead, after deposing the opposition who ran the constituency, the residents were informed of the destruction of their neighbourhood.

Like Princess Elizabeth Estate which was bulldozed in the late 1980s, Hillview estate was torn down in 1995 and the area left vacant until 2010 when the land was sold to condominium developers.

I would love to hear from ex-residents of Hillview Estate and if you do have a photo you would like to share, please send it to me here.

4 comments:

  1. Hi, i used to stay at blk 2, the block that was nearest to the sewerage plant. My kitchen overlooks it. It gave my meals a unique smell all the time. I remember the day when the wrecking balls came to tear it down. I also remember walking to the indian barber behind the block at what we used to call the attap houses. I also fondly remember the 193 / 173 bus interchange. Alas, it has all disappeared. One of the guys who sold great mixed vege rice at the indian coffee shop is now selling the same at the hawker centre at beauty world centre. Its still good!

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  2. AnonymousJuly 22, 2015

    I was born and raised in Hillview Estate and could still vaguely remember the wonderful sight of the bustling wet market with culling of live chickens, the hawker centre with the very popular yong tau foo stall, and the bakery at Blk 1 which sold curry puffs. I attended my kindergarten at the void deck of Blk 11 and later at the nearby community centre. Life seems so carefree back then :)

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  3. Hillview estate ...... The shops serving the estate was mainly in block 1, and if I recall correctly, the shops were: the hill view cake shop (great curry puffs), an aquarium shop, hardware store, a chinese medical hall, Ong clinic, an indian mamak provision shop, Eliza confectionary, Lim clinic, bookstore & stationary shop, another indian provision shop and a chinese provision shop. Apart from the hawker centre, there were also two coffee shops in the block facing the Hillview community center, as well as a hardware store. Boy, I miss those days in Singapore.

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  4. i stayed at blk 6 and remember fondly the silat practice in the community centre and below and the sound of people playing tennis. as well as dr. ong's clinic, tay joo shop, the bakery with the best chicken curry puffs as well as delicious hawker food such as wanton mee and carrot cake. taking 176 to go to bukit panjang plasa and 173 (i think) to westmall..those were amazing days.

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