Dakota Crescent’s Dove Playground Saved, Thanks To Conservationists

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Dakota Crescent To Be Repurposed Into New BTO Flats

Many Singaporeans know Dakota Crescent as one of the original public housing estates. It’s been around since 1958 before the Housing and Development Board was even created.

Sadly, due to a need for more public housing, HDB announced that Dakota Crescent was going to be redeveloped.

This meant the buildings, including everyone’s favourite playground – Old Dove playground, were going to be gone for good.

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But through the relentless efforts of a band of passionate conservationists, the preservation of the iconic locale has been secured for generations to come.


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The good news is that Minister Lawrence Wong announced on Facebook on 12 Dec that Dakota Crescent would now feature new BTO flats with key heritage sites of the estate to be preserved.

Scheduled for redevelopment

In 2014, Today reported that HDB was planning to redevelop Dakota Crescent into new residences. The 400 residents living there were given until 31 Dec 2016 to move out.

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According to Channel NewsAsia, by Dec 2016, 90 percent of Dakota Crescent residents had already moved out.

The redevelopment plan also meant the end of the Old Dove playground, which is one of the most iconic and #instaworthy playgrounds in Singapore.

Saving Dakota Crescent

A wave of nostalgia washed over most Singaporeans, when they discovered that Dakota Crescent was scheduled for redevelopment. Art projects, farewell tours and films were even made about the estate.

Notably, a Facebook page called Save Dakota Crescent was created in the hopes of conserving as much of Dakota Crescent as possible.

In 2016, Save Dakota Crescent came up with a detailed conservation report outlining their plans to save Dakota Crescent. The conservation group rallied the community, and their efforts were so outstanding that they got what they wanted.

Without their determination to save this piece of history, Old Dove playground could’ve been nothing more but a distant memory.

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The attention to detail that went into their super-long report is probably one of the reasons why their cause was successful.

In a Facebook post on their page on Tuesday (12 Nov), they also elaborated on the key points of their proposal that were taken into consideration.

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They hoped to conserve:

  • Large open courtyards of the iconic estate
  • Dove Playground as a landmark
  • Geylang river path
  • 4 Block types – Slab, Butterfly, 2-Storey & 3-Storey

Their efforts were then bolstered by Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, who filed a motion in parliament to discuss saving Dakota Crescent.

The Straits Times reported that Mr Lim stated that “the estate has architectural, historical and social significance”.

His motion was backed by nominated MP Kok Heng Leun, a prominent figure in the Singapore art scene, who said that the “ground-up initiative with bold vision” of those organising the conservation efforts, should be taken sincerely.

Successful Conservation

Surprisingly enough, Minister Lawrence Wong recently announced that parts of Dakota Crescent, including the Old Dove Playground, will be retained.

Instead of being removed, they will be overhauled as part of an addition to the new HDB residences.

In the lengthy Facebook post below, he detailed the conservation efforts.

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Here are the most interesting parts of his Facebook post, in case you are too lazy to read it:

1. New HDB flats will be added to the estate while keeping some of Dakota Crescent’s old charm.

2. The central cluster of buildings and the playground are going to be repurposed into public spaces for civic and community use.

3. The new-and-improved Dakota Crescent will have elements of both past and present, merging them together to satisfy the community’s needs.

All in all, it appears that a compromise has been struck. Although Dakota Crescent may not be saved in its entirety, the government has agreed to conserve the areas with heritage value for posterity.

Old is gold

Thanks to the efforts of these dedicated conservationists, another piece of history has been preserved for years to come.

Admiralty Park might have a bunch of cool slides in its park, but nothing will beat the old favourites like Old Dove Playground and Dragon Playground.

Featured image from Frasers Centrepoint.

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