Eye on Kovan: Rising star of the northeast

by Tan Liang Tuan Gigi 11 Nov 2014

Located in Hougang, Kovan tends to be slightly under the radar but that is set to change with a number of upcoming developments. Muneerah Bee takes a tour.

With a shopping basket in one hand, a lady points to her desired purchase, while a man, standing in between baskets with fowls in them, holds a chicken in his hand.

Perhaps, this might have been a common sight at the Simon Road Market which used to be in Kovan from 1948 to 1999. Today, the bronze sculptures of the lady and the man along Upper Serangoon Road remind residents of their neighbourhood’s history.

A mention of Kovan today may conjure images of landed housing but this is slowly changing. Granted, it is home to several terrace homes, semi-detached and bungalows particularly in the Kovan, Rosyth and Hillside housing areas, but recent years have seen several condominiums sprouting in the neighbourhood.

For example, Kovan Melody, and Kovan Residences are a short walking distance from the Kovan MRT station. These projects were completed in 2006 and 2011 respectively, and more will be joining the supply of private homes in Kovan.

Condominiums arising

The Tembusu (pictured below) by Wing Tai Asia, for instance, is slated to be ready in 2017. The 337-unit development offers one- to four-bedrooms including dual key units.

Other upcoming projects include Kovan Regency, and The Bently Residences @ Kovan; while Infinium, a freehold cluster housing project along Richards Avenue is also underway.

Interestingly, another upcoming cluster project has a unique history behind its location. The site of One Surin at 790 Upper Serangoon Road used to be where Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin & Crocodile Farm operated. Better known as the Singapore Crocodile Farm, it used to breed and rear crocodiles, which were later used to make leather products.

Upper Serangoon Road runs through Kovan with several bus services which can bring residents to the city centre, Telok Blangah, Bugis, Pasir Ris, Punggol, Queensway and other areas. To better serve residents, Upper Serangoon Road is expected to undergo improvements, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Master Plan 2014.

The stretch of Upper Serangoon Road will soon be adorned with identity markers as a heritage corridor to showcase the area’s rich history as part of HDB’s Remaking our Heartland (ROH) programme.

Kovan MRT station, on the North East Line (NEL), is also located along this main road. It is one stop away from Serangoon MRT station which also on the Circle Line (CCL).

For drivers, the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway provides a direct route to the city area.

Vibrancy for all

However, Kovan residents do not have to go far for their living necessities. Heartland Mall, a small shopping centre right next to Kovan MRT station, is a good place to pick up some toiletries, stationeries and other basic needs while food options include fast food, pastries and sushi. Cold Storage supermarket on the first floor is also available for groceries. Enhancements to the public spaces around the mall are expected.

Just a few minutes’ walk from Heartland Mall is Kovan Sports Centre which has eight sheltered indoor courts, where residents can enjoy futsal, indoor cricket and other sports. The venue can even accommodate water soccer and team bonding activities, and it even has shower and toilet facilities, making it an ideal place for families and friends to spend some time together.
The Paya Lebar Kovan Community Centre (CC) right across the street also offers regular activities for residents to bond.

Of course, nothing can bring people together like food can, and Kovan is not short of eateries, pubs and cafes in the area. Choose from pork knuckles and beer at Knuckles Bistro or scrumptious Thai food at Nakhon Kitchen, among the various dining options in the neighbourhood. Soccer fans will enjoy Grapevine Cafe Bar and Restaurant which screens Barclays Premier League matches, while Lola’s Café offers a casual environment to hang out with friends. Dessert fans will find it hard to resist Hatter’s Street, a café located in a HDB estate. Such heartland gems make Kovan a lively and interesting place for residents.

Adding on to its vibrancy, Kovan was the venue for the 100 Bands Festival in June this year. Over three weekends, 100 local bands and homegrown musicians performed at the former Hougang South Bus Interchange, now renamed Kovan Hub. To complement the community music festival, there were also stalls featuring local designers and artists, as well as band merchandise for sale.

While Kovan Hub is currently vacated, the site is sometimes used to hold exhibitions, and it is also the pick-up point for some coach services to Malaysia.

A home for everyone

Even with its wide offerings of food and entertainment, a Singapore estate is not complete without its dosage of nature and greenery. The URA Master Plan 2014 indicates there will be new neighbourhood parks within Kovan estate.

For now, residents can enjoy the Surin Avenue neighbourhood park, and another park near Hougang Avenue 1. Visitors to the Surin Avenue neighbourhood park will find a special Tamarind tree there which has been named a Heritage Tree by the National Parks Board (NParks). Its presence is even used as a scavenger hunt activity for some secondary school students.

On the topic of education, residents in Kovan can send their school-going children to Xinghua Primary School and Yuying Secondary School for public education. Serangoon Junior College is also nearby.

International schools are also found in Kovan, such as DPS International School along Aroozoo Avenue and Dimensions International College near Lowland Road.

As for Kovan residents who would like workplaces near home, Defu Industrial Park and Lorong Halus Industrial Park are ideal options as they are situated within the northeast of Singapore, saving them travelling time on a daily basis.

With several developments slated to be ready in the next few years, Kovan is set to be even more vibrant and making its presence known on the map of Singapore

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