Neighbourhood Estate Guide: Rejuvenating Toa Payoh Town – How This Old Dame Is Getting A Facelift

Neighbourhood Estate Guide: Rejuvenating Toa Payoh Town – How This Old Dame Is Getting A Facelift

Toa Payoh has undergone constant rejuvenation and a new Integrated Development is expected to be ready by 2030.

Singaporeans should know where Toa Payoh is, as it is where you can buy your first Housing Development Board (HDB) flat, at HDB Hub.

Other notable landmarks of Toa Payoh include its large sports stadium, where some attended competitions and watched international matches.

Before other fringe estates (e.g. Serangoon and Marymount) were developed with their MRT lines, many would transit at Toa Payoh to get to different locations of Singapore, as it is nestled on the North South Line. It is three MRT stops away from Orchard Road and two to three stops away from Bishan and Ang Mo Kio.

A mature town that is known for its history and roots. Toa Payoh is located in the northern part of the Central Region of Singapore.

Spanning an area of 8.17 square kilometres with a population of 120,650 (as of 2019). Toa Payoh is made out of three subzones, namely, Bidadari, Joo Seng and Potong Pasir.

It is fringed by Bishan and Serangoon to the north, Kallang to the south, Novena to the west, and Hougang to the east.


History Of Toa Payoh

Toa Payoh, translates to “Large Swamp” in Hokkien. There is an old cemetery located in the area, and its former Chinese name was known as Ang Chiang San. It is the second satellite town after Queenstown that was built by the HDB.

The name already provides hints to the heritage of the area. It was once a well-known squatter district, comprising workers who worked in farms, factories, mechanics, domestic helpers and hawkers.

Certain dealings including vice and crime were frequently occurring there, leading to it being coined by the media as the “Chicago of the East” or the “Chicago of Singapore”. The massive clean-up from the government helped the town to become Singapore’s second oldest satellite town, after Queenstown.

The plan to develop Toa Payoh was part of a $230 million building programme announced by then Deputy Prime Minister and Acting National Development Minister Toh Chin Chye in August 1960. However, due to difficulties in relocating the kampong dwellers in the area, actual construction work only began in December 1964

In total, Toa Payoh was envisaged to have 35,000 units to house some 250,000 people. There were also plans to have about 480 shops, over 20 schools, and other amenities such as markets, clinics, cinemas, community centres, hawker centres and places of worship in Toa Payoh.

These amenities, together with the housing units, were laid out based on the “neighbourhood concept”. This concept divided Toa Payoh into several neighbourhoods before grouping them around a town centre that acted as a focal point for the entertainment and shopping needs of residents.

Toa Payoh was built as a self-contained satellite town in mind of which residents can have easy access to the things they needed. Toa Payoh was intended as a model for subsequent satellite towns built such as Ang Mo Kio and Telok Blangah.

A notable moment for the town was in 1972 when British Queen Elizabeth II visited the place, and returned in 2006.

Toa Payoh also served as the games village for the 7th South East Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games in September 1973.


Image Credit: HDB

Through the games, Toa Payoh gained not only a sports complex and a swimming complex but also a public library when the four-storey building used to house the SEAP Games Secretariat was converted into a library.

Over the years, more facilities were added within the vicinity of Toa Payoh town centre such as a bus interchange, a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station, a park as well as community centres.

In 1995, Toa Payoh underwent an extensive renewal programme that saw many of its original flats being replaced by newer ones. The town centre was also rejuvenated with better facilities so that it was comparable with the town centres of newer housing estates.

Accessibility In Toa Payoh

As the neighbourhood is very large, the district is divided into several smaller districts, referred to as Toa Payoh Lorong (which translates to aisle in Malay) 1 through 8, which surround the town centre, Toa Payoh Central. According to Street Directory, there are 11 sub-zones, namely Marymount, Toa Payoh Central, Braddell, Boon Teck, Kallang, Pei Chun, Kim Keat, Woodleigh, Potong Pasir, Sennet and Paya Lebar.

Image Credit: Google Maps

There are five MRT stations that are within close vicinity of Toa Payoh, and they span across three different train lines. These stations are: Toa Payoh (located at Toa Payoh Central), Braddell, Woodleigh, Potong Pasir, and Caldecott. In addition, the Toa Payoh Bus Interchange is located beside Toa Payoh MRT.


Image Credit: ZKang/Wikipedia

Toa Payoh Bus Interchange is an Integrated Transport Hub located at Toa Payoh Town Centre, serving the town of Toa Payoh and Braddell. It is the first air-conditioned bus interchange in Singapore, integrated within the Toa Payoh HDB Hub and built on top of Toa Payoh MRT Station.

The bus terminal has more than 20 bus numbers and routes. There are seven feeder services to serve the large Toa Payoh Town.

Education Options In Toa Payoh

The mature estate is known for many schools. From mixed schools to single-gender girls and boys schools, many young families move to the neighbourhood to get the distance proximity benefit in order to enrol their children into the school of their choice.

There are a total of eight primary schools and six secondary schools:

MOE Primary School
No Name of School Location
1 Cedar Primary School 15 Cedar Ave, Singapore 349700
2 CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh) 628 Lor 1 Toa Payoh, Singapore 319765
3 First Toa Payoh Primary School 7 Lor 8 Toa Payoh, Singapore 319252
4 Kheng Cheng School 15 Lor 3 Toa Payoh, Singapore 319580
5 Maris Stella High School (Primary) 25 Mount Vernon Rd, Singapore 368051
6 Marymount Convent School 20 Marymount Rd, Singapore 297754
7 Pei Chun Public School 16 Lor 7 Toa Payoh, Singapore 319320
8 St Andrew’s Junior School 2 Francis Thomas Dr, Singapore 359337
MOE Secondary School
No Name of School Location
1 Bartley Secondary School 10 Jln Bunga Rampai, Singapore 538403
2 Beatty Secondary School 1 Toa Payoh N, Singapore 318990
3 Cedar Girls’ Secondary School 1 Cedar Ave, Singapore 349692
4 CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh) 626 Lor 1 Toa Payoh, Singapore 319764
5 Maris Stella High School 25 Mount Vernon Rd, Singapore 368051
6 St Andrews Secondary School 15 Francis Thomas Dr, Singapore 359342

Housing Options In Toa Payoh

The centrally located town is home to about 105,000 HDB residents, and HDB manages 37,900 flats in the area (as of 31 March 2018). This shows that the estate is mostly made up of public housing, with limited plots of land for private residential.

There are multiple condominiums in Toa Payoh, such as Trellis Towers, Trevista, and Sky@Eleven that are available for sale. Gem Residences is a new private residential project that was launched in Toa Payoh after a gap of more than half a decade and is currently marketing its units for sale.

As one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, Toa Payoh was the first to benefit from the Estate Renewal Strategy – an integrated and systematic approach to rejuvenate older HDB towns, making them more comparable with newer estates. The estate renewal efforts revitalise Toa Payoh, and the pioneer HDB town is a vibrant place today, and home to the HDB Hub, our headquarters.

In 2015, Toa Payoh was announced as one of the towns to be rejuvenated under the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme. The programme aims to further rejuvenate the town with enhanced commercial and recreational facilities, as well as new residential developments.

The ROH initiative was launched as a comprehensive rejuvenation blueprint to renew and further develop existing HDB towns and estates.


Recreation for Toa Payoh Residents, And Business Activities

There are no main malls in the area, but there are hubs for shopping and food needs – a cluster of shophouses and businesses in an area.

Near the town centre, there is the Toa Payoh Stadium, where some popular S.League clubs play their matches. Toa Payoh Sports Hall is located beside the stadium, as well as the Singapore Table Tennis Association Academy. Meanwhile, there is also Toa Payoh Swimming Complex, where national swimmers train at the complex.

Image Credit: Terence Ong/Wikipedia

Business activities:

Besides being HDB’s headquarters, HDB Hub is also a convenient shopping and dining place for the town’s residents. The many neighbourhood shops and pedestrian mall in Toa Payoh Town Centre also make the place a bustling environment.

The businesses in the area are mainly retail and food and business services. Most of the stores are found either at the HDB Hub at Toa Payoh Central and at shop houses around that area; these shops cater to all the daily needs of the residents, from selling household items and clothes to providing beauty services.

Hospitals and clinics:

Mount Alvernia Hospital is also near the district, and there are various general practitioner clinics and Toa Payoh Polyclinic run by the National Healthcare Group.


The Toa Payoh Community Library features a wide collection of books. One of the larger community libraries in Singapore, its premises are spread across three floors. It is also a popular study hangout for students.


Toa Payoh Town park is a great little pocket of nature for a relaxing stroll or energizing jog. The park contains a large pavilion, landscaped pond, gazebos, and large shady willow trees. Developed in the seventies, this intimate park has retained a rustic charm and beauty amidst the modern developments in its surrounding areas.


Also known as Siong Lim Temple, Lian Shan Shuang Lin is a Buddhist monastery built in 1907. Lian Shan Shuang Lin, meaning “Twin Grove of the Lotus Mountain Temple”, refers to the twin groves of sala trees where Buddha was believed to have attained enlightenment. Originally constructed by Chinese craftsmen from Fujian province in China, the building comprises a combination of Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou architectural styles.

There is also a SAFRA clubhouse located at Toa Payoh.

New Integrated Development In Toa Payoh – By 2030

Toa Payoh is set to experience a “facelift”, with sport, healthcare, library and park facilities soon to be combined into an integrated development. The development is expected to provide opportunities and optimise experiences for the community.

Image Credit: HDB

The polyclinic and library will be located within the new development. A regional sport centre, a polyclinic, a public library and a regional town park are being planned on the 12-ha land parcel located between Lorong 6 Toa Payoh and PIE.

It is envisioned to be an extension of Toa Payoh Town Centre to serve the residents in the central region and it will serve as a lifestyle destination with community facilities and space.

What’s in the new integrated development:

  • sporting facilities,
  • football stadium
  • swimming pools
  • indoor sports halls
  • sheltered tennis
  • futsal
  • netball courts
  • gymnasium
  • fitness studios

In addition, there are also plans for the development to house the national training centres for aquatics, netball and table tennis.

Toa Payoh Town Park will be rejuvenated as part of the overall Toa Payoh Integrated Development with enhanced greenery and new amenities, bringing visitors closer to flora and fauna.

What’s interesting about the town park:

  • The development and landscaping of the new regional park are shaped around the existing terrain and will retain its heritage characteristics and lush vegetation.
  • More native trees and shrubs will be planted throughout the entire hub and integrated with the various facilities to enhance the existing greenery and biodiversity.

The government is gathering residents’ feedback on the preliminary design and its facilities as part of the public consultation phase of the development. The public consultation on the plan is open now as the development is expected to be ready by 2030.


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