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Plans to spruce up Orchard Road announced

PLANS aimed at strengthening Orchard Road’s position as a lifestyle location with more green spaces were announced on Wednesday by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and National Parks Board (NParks).

These plans were unveiled after STB, URA, NParks and the Land Transport Authority embarked on a review of the future plans for Orchard Road. Consultations were held during the exercise with private sector stakeholders alongside a study led by Australian property consultancy Cistri.

One initiative resulting from that is Design Orchard, where over 60 local brands are housed under one roof including home-grown retailer Naiise, sportwear outfit Kydra and social enterprise The Animal Project, among others.

Speaking at the launch of Design Orchard, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing acknowledged that Orchard Road has come a long way from its early days as a nutmeg and clove plantation. Mr Chan, who is also the co-chair of the Ministerial Steering Committee for Orchard Road, added that the belt must continue to be a place of innovation and evolution, where new concepts and experiences can be trialled and tested.

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The government’s other plans include making Orchard Road “The Lifestyle Destination” with innovative retail concepts, attractions, entertainment and events, the government agencies said in a joint release.

The shopping belt is split up into four sub-precincts - Tanglin, Orchard, Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut – with the aim of enhancing the existing identities of these areas to cater to the various interests of Orchard Road’s many visitors. While the Orchard sub-precinct will remain the retail heart of the city-state, the shopping experience can be enhanced through more street activities and better pedestrian connectivity, the government agencies said.

In a statement, Mr Chan acknowledged that much of the past successes of Orchard Road as an attraction had to do with both the public and private sector working hand-in-hand to bring concepts and retail offerings to both locals and travellers. “We will continue our partnership with the private sector to develop Orchard Road as a vibrant lifestyle destination that offers an exceptional experience beyond retail,” he said.

To that tune, the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) will start a one-year trial in April 2019 to bring in activities that include retail and food and beverage pop-ups, arts and entertainment events and event spaces along the pedestrian mall in Orchard Road.

Other ideas conceived for making Orchard Road "The Lifestyle Destination" include further developing the Somerset sub-precinct with more offerings catered to youth, Dhoby Ghaut as a family-friendly lifestyle zone, and Tanglin as the arts and culture sub-precinct.

To “Bring Back the Orchard” to the shopping belt, NParks is looking to plant a showcase of trees and shrubs that depict the colours of the tropics. Istana Park can also be rejuvenated with themed gardens inspired by the botanical and horticultural traditions and practices seen throughout Singapore’s history.

A public exhibition on the future plans for Orchard Road is being held at Orchard Fountain Corner beside 313@Somerset from Jan 30 to Feb 13, where visitors can provide their feedback. The public may also choose to view details on the plan and provide feedback at https://ura.sg/orchardrd until May 31.