Putting a chill into Chong Pang City

13 05 2022

I never thought I will admit to this but I shall miss the old market at “Chong Pang City” when it goes. The old market will go sometime around 2027, when it is scheduled to move into a soulless new age all-in-one integrated development now coming up in place of a former community club building and a low-rise block of flats that both were recently acquired and demolished.

A queue for roasted meat

Chong Pang City, which counts as Nee Soon (later Yishun) New Town’s very first neighbourhood centre, acquired its name in 1993, when shopkeepers banded together to rebrand the place in response to the opening of Northpoint shopping mall. The development of the neighbourhood had taken place several years earlier, having been built over a period spanning seven years, from 1977 to 1984. When development first started, much of its surroundings were occupied by cemetery land, farms and on the side of Chong Pang Camp opposite it, fishing ponds and vegetable plots. Leaving its rural past behind the area, around where Chye Kay Village was located, very quickly took on the vibe of a neighbourhood centre typical of any new public housing town built in the era. The market, which was completed in 1984 as one of the last old-style wet markets built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), became one of its draws, and is today one of the more lively marketplaces.

The Pork Section.

The marketplace at Chong Pang City — I use the word “marketplace” because much of the surroundings in the immediate vicinity of the market, such as the kiosks, commercial units, plazas and pedestrian malls, contributes to the special buzz of Chong Pang’s market. A wide range of produce is available at the market with traders catering to the various segments of the neighbourhood’s population, and this also draws many from further afield. And now, even in the age of supermarkets, online shopping and dining out, the marketplace continues to have a buzz that makes it one of Singapore’s liveliest market places.

A new day at the marketplace.

To me, Chong Pang’s market is one of the places that make Singapore, Singapore, and it is sad to think that this rather unique side of us will in five years or so be a thing of the past. Change, of course, is inevitable in a Singapore that moves much too fast, and we don’t seem to have much of a choice with this with work on the oddly but maybe aptly named integrated development, “Chill @ Chong Pang”, is already underway. Once completed, the “Chill” will literally take Chong Pang to new levels and put a chill on Chong Pang City.

Fruits and vegetables are also sold in the shops in the vicinity of the market.

Stacked onto Chill’s multiple tiers with the wet market will be a community club, a food centre, a swimming complex, gyms, fitness studios, banks, eateries, community spaces and shops. What Chill will also have is an outer garment of vertical greenery that can only be maintained with much effort, and possibly a green roof to enhance its green credentials. All nice and good, but the how of fitting all that is comfortably, and with a setting that is conducive for market shopping, can only be seen in five years time.

Fresh fish is available at the market’s many fishmongers.

Integrated developments have been around for quite a while, and they do take some getting used to. These developments almost invariably seem to have constraints of space and there is never enough around key access points, intended waiting areas and even around lift landings and getting from one level to the next, is often not a pleasant experience. Closed-in markets are also not the most pleasant of places to do one’s marketing in and while it may be a thing of the future, it isn’t something that I will be looking forward to.

Another fishmonger’s stall.

Stalls / shops in the vicinity of the market.

A roasted meat seller.

A shrine outside the market.

A fruit seller.

Crowds during the lockdown led to further crowd control measures being implemented for entry to the market.

Another scene during the lockdown.

The calm before the storm. The former Community Club on the right, which was demolished, forms part of the site for Chill @ Chong Pang.

Another shrine, this one behind the market.

The marketplace.

An Egg dealer.

More fishy business.


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One response

18 05 2022
Constantine Ng

Chong Pang brings back memories of national service days at Nee Soon Camp (1977). Will be sad to see the market go in a few years.
Good write up Jerome. Thank you.

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