Aug 2020 BTO Launch In-Depth Review (Part 2): Woodlands and Ang Mo Kio

14 min read

What’s the most exciting thing in August besides this National Day? For us and Singaporeans looking forward to their first home, it’s definitely the Aug 2020 BTO launch by HDB.

The sales exercise for a bumper crop of 7,862 flats began on 12 August, with the seven-day application period closing at midnight on 18 August.

To help you make an informed choice about which of the eight towns to apply for, we’re releasing in-depth reviews for the projects in each town over four consecutive days:

Earlier on, we’ve also done preliminary location reviews for the BTO projects here and here, which can give you more information on what is surrounding the sites (e.g. schools).

Meanwhile, here’s the in-depth Aug 2020 BTO launch review, including site plan and floor plan analysis, for Woodlands and Ang Mo Kio!

Aug 2020 BTO: Woodlands

Name of projects: UrbanVille @ Woodlands and Champions Bliss

aug 2020 hdb bto map woodlands urbanville champions bliss
Click/tap to enlarge. Source: HDB

For UrbanVille @ Woodlands

Units: 1,785 units across 8 blocks, with height varying from 14 to 32 storeys
Available unit types: 2-room Flexi, 3-room, 4-room, 5-room
Facilities within project: Playgrounds, fitness stations, hardcourt, landscaped deck, roof gardens, eating house and restaurant, shops, supermarket, childcare centre
Nearby amenities: Causeway Point, Woodlands Civic Centre, Woodlands MRT, Republic Polytechnic, Admiralty Park, Woodlands Community Club
Estimated completion date: Q2 2026 (62 months waiting time)

First impressions

Impressive. We haven’t really seen HDB envision a BTO project as a self-sustainable village on a large scale prior to this, and they have truly pulled the rabbit out of the hat with UrbanVille @ Woodlands.

With an iconic sky bridge offering panoramic views of the Straits of Johor and an overhead pedestrian and cycling link that connects seamlessly to the development, this is public housing at its absolute finest. We couldn’t help but be impressed at how distinctive this entire project looks. In time this will be as recognisable as Pinnacle @ Duxton.

aug 2020 hdb bto woodlands urbanville bridge
Artist’s impression of Urbanville @ Woodlands. Source: HDB

The beating heart of this BTO project is an activity spine called WoodsVista Gallery, where residents can find shops, a supermarket, a kopitiam, as well as a childcare centre. There’s even space allocated for a restaurant. Plenty of space is set aside for future amenities, which might include co-working spaces.

With the interlinking steel canopies throughout the project, UrbanVille @ Woodlands can also call itself the heartland version of Clarke Quay.

aug 2020 hdb bto woodlands urbanville
Artist’s impression of Urbanville @ Woodlands. Source: HDB

In time, the pedestrian and cycling link will also provide residents with direct access to the waterfront, the Woodlands terminus of the RTS link, and an expanded Woodlands Central via “linkbridges”, as HDB calls it. The scale of development that’s planned for Woodlands regional centre will rival the scale of the current Jurong East.

The caveat is that fully building up the infrastructure here will take time, and [email protected] counts as the first piece of the jgsaw. Residents will have to make a ten-minute trip by bus or on foot until a direct link to Woodlands Central is built. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to get excited about here, let’s dive into the site plan.

Site Plan of UrbanVille @ Woodlands + Analysis

aug 2020 hdb bto site plan urbanville woodlands
Site plan of Urbanville @ Woodlands. Click/tap to enlarge. Source: HDB

What we like about the site:

  • Very well-conceptualised; distinctive design of the project will likely raise perceived property value, relative to other newer HDB flats
  • Self-contained concept and nearby amenities give residents the best of both worlds
  • The linkbridges are an excellent example of forward planning in Singapore, when it comes to connectivity in the urban environment
  • Orientation of stacks optimised for views; few stacks directly facing one another
  • Most of the stacks are set back from the main road, which reduces the effects of traffic noise
  • Direct access to Admiralty Park; bike-friendly features great for cyclists

What we dislike about the site:

  • The linkbridge network towards Woodlands Central/MRT is dependent on future developments, which might take another decade to complete
  • The furthest blocks (e.g. 907A) might feel a bit left out of the action. Residents will take about 3-minutes to walk to the key facilities within the development.
  • Some blocks (e.g. 909B) are relatively far from the multi-storey car park
  • The majority of stacks with high floors and good views appear to be 5-room units, with the rest being 4-room units; it’d be nice if some 3-room owners can get the privilege as well
  • Blocks 908B and 909C will experience some traffic from non-residents, especially if the sky bridge is open to the public
  • Distribution of 2-room Flexi units among blocks are uneven
  • Residents will likely have to deal with intensive construction work surrounding their flats in the first few years after moving in
  • Outrageously long waiting time for flats to be built: 62 months from now until Q2 2026

What else we noted:

  • If residents want units with unblocked views towards the Straits of Johor, they will also have to deal with the afternoon sun

Our favourite stacks:

  • 2-room Flexi: 187, 189
  • 3-room: 313, 315
  • 4-room: 195, 197, 343, 345, 351, 353
  • 5-room: 207, 209, 355, 357

Floor Plans of UrbanVille @ Woodlands + Analysis

floor plan hdb bto woodlands urbanville
3-, 4- and 5-room floor plans at UrbanVille @ Woodlands. Click/tap to enlarge. Source: HDB

The good:

  • The larger of the 2-room unit configurations come with a well-placed study that can either be turned into a walk-in wardrobe or a room for a helper/caregiver
  • 3-room units have dry-wet kitchens that are quite well-connected to the living and dining areas
  • 3-room units have combined kitchen and utility spaces (as opposed to each unit having a separate kitchen and service yard), which allows more flexibility in layout

The not-so-good:

  • The living rooms of 4-room units are small-ish
  • We’re not a fan of the split windows design that’s present everywhere except the master bedroom for 4- and 5-room units (if you’re wondering what split windows are, it’s (_[wall]___) instead of a continuous window like this (_____)

For Champions Bliss

Units: 349 units across 3 blocks, with height varying from 11 to 12 storeys
Available unit types: 2-room Flexi, 3-room, 4-room, 5-room
Facilities within project: Playground, fitness stations, hardcourt
Nearby amenities: Woodlands South MRT station, Ace the Place Community Club, Woodlands Health Campus and Healing Forest Garden, Vista Point
Estimated completion date: Q2 2024 (41 months waiting time)

First impressions

Even though this development is the smaller and less glitzy of the two Woodlands BTO projects, Champions Bliss is still very much a winner.

The most striking difference is that this BTO will be located in a quieter, more laid back environment. Even though there’s a lack of facilities within the development itself, residents will be next to a community centre and within a seven-minute walking distance to a 24-hour supermarket and a neighbourhood mall, Vista Point.

aug 2020 bto woodlands champions bliss
Artist’s impression of Champions Bliss. Source: HDB

Champions Bliss is also nearer to an MRT station than UrbanVille, the other Woodlands BTO project. Residents here will be a two-minute walk from the entrance of Woodlands South MRT, or even less. This makes Champions Bliss a better choice for residents who expect to frequently commute to the city, or anywhere for that matter, via the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL).

Nearby, there’ll also be a 1.5 hectare park for recreation that’s part of the soon-to-be-completed Woodlands Health Campus. This comprehensive medical facility will also be beneficial for residents nearby, especially elderly who require frequent care and follow-up.

They might even get to Woodlands Central faster than the UrbanVille residents via the MRT. Score!

Site Plan of Champions Bliss + Analysis

aug 2020 hdb bto site plan woodlands champions bliss
Site plan for Champions Bliss BTO. Click/tap to enlarge. Source: HDB

What we like about the site:

  • Seldom do we see a BTO project so near to an MRT station
  • Walking distance to Vista Point and a 24-hour supermarket
  • Next to a community club
  • Located in a quiet residential area
  • Within walking distance to major healthcare facility (Woodlands Health Campus) and adjoining park
  • Up to five primary schools within 1km, which is the most out of Aug 2020 BTO projects
  • High-floor units in stacks facing Singapore Sports School can enjoy permanently unblocked views across the Mandai forest
  • Relatively shorter waiting time of 41 months
woodlands health campus
Artist’s impression of the upcoming Woodlands Health Campus.

What we dislike about the site:

  • The nearest kopitiam is a five-minute walk away
  • Lifts are in seriously short supply, each block only has two lifts. The two lifts of each block has to service more than 10 households on each level
  • Some 2-room units have front doors that open up directly to the common refuse chute area
  • Might have to deal with noise pollution from construction work in the future, breaking the area’s peace and quiet for a few years

What else we noted:

  • Stacks 138, 140, 154 and 156 are West-facing and will bear the full force of the afternoon sun
  • Only 2-room Flexi and 4-room units are available for this project

Our favourite stacks:

  • 2-room Flexi: 118, 120
  • 4-room: 130, 132, 134, 136, 164, 166

Floor Plans of Champions Bliss + Analysis

floor plan aug 2020 hdb bto champions bliss woodlands
Selected 2-room Flexi and 4-room floor plan at Champions Bliss. Click/tap to enlarge. Source: HDB

The good:

  • The larger of the 2-room unit configurations come with a well-placed study that can either be turned into a walk-in wardrobe or a room for a helper/caregiver

The not-so-good:

  • The living rooms of 4-room units are small-ish

Prices of the Aug 2020 Woodlands BTO + Analysis

Flat Type Floor Area (sqm) Price Range (excluding grants)
2-room Flexi 38 $90,000 – $131,000
48 $113,000 – $162,000
3-room 69-72 $184,000 – $228,000
4-room 93-96 $276,000 – $381,000
5-room 113-116 $405,000 – $516,000

The prices for the Woodlands BTO flats for the Aug 2020 sales launch were largely within our expectations for a non-mature estate. The most affordable unit type here, relative to median resale HDB prices, are 3-room flats. (Resale 3-room flats in Woodlands typically cost about $245,000.)

It must, however, be said that HDB has raised BTO prices in Woodlands compared to last year, when Champions Green (located opposite Champions Bliss) was launched in May 2019. Back then, the starting prices for 3-room, 4-room and 5-room flats were $165,000, $244,000 and $336,000 respectively.

Comparing that to the Aug 2020 BTO launch, starting prices have increased across the board, by 11.5% for 3-room flats, 13.1% for 4-room flats and 20.5% for 5-room flats.

Considering this, we think the magnitude of increase in the span of a year or so is a bit insane, even if the Aug 2020 projects are slightly better positioned within Woodlands.

In contrast, resale HDB prices in Woodlands have increased by only 2.3% on average, from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020. Check out the resale HDB flats listed in Woodlands right now to make a price comparison.

No wonder HDB has pulled out all the stops to elevate [email protected] into more than just a stack of Lego blocks.

Who should apply: Those who want to stake a claim for a home in two of the best possible locations in Woodlands.

 

Aug 2020 BTO: Ang Mo Kio

Name of project: Kebun Baru Edge

Units: 380 units across 2 blocks up to 29 storeys
Available unit types: 4-room, 5-room
Facilities within project: Playgrounds, fitness stations, hardcourt, landscaped deck, roof gardens, eating house and restaurant, shops, supermarket, childcare centre
Nearby amenities: Mayflower MRT station, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Lower Pierce Reservoir Park
Estimated completion date: Q1 2025 (47 months waiting time)

First impressions

With only 4- and 5-room flats, this high-rise BTO project is one for the families and will have a narrow demographic of young, middle-class couples.

Despite its distance from Ang Mo Kio town centre, two key factors make Kebun Baru Edge an instant hit: the proximity to the soon-to-open Mayflower MRT station (a five-minute walk) and two well-regarded primary schools, Ai Tong and St. Nicholas Girls.

Kebun Baru Edge is about a 10- to 15-minute bus ride to Ang Mo Kio Town Centre and Thomson Plaza.

kebun baru edge bto
Artist’s impressions of Kebun Baru Edge. Source: HDB

Site Plan of Kebun Baru Edge + Analysis

aug 2020 hdb bto site plan ang mo kio kebun baru edge
Site plan of Kebun Baru Edge. Click/tap to enlarge. Source: HDB

What we like about the site:

  • Right opposite Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, with easy access via a pedestrian bridge (which should really be upgraded with ramp access); also within a 15-minute walking distance (or one bus stop away) from Lower Pierce Reservoir Park
  • Two well-regarded primary schools (Ai Tong and St. Nicholas Girls’) within 1km
  • Within a five-minute walk to Mayflower MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL); Mayflower MRT station is 8 stops from Orchard (about 20 mins) and 13 stops from Senton Way (about 30 minutes)
  • Small supermarket, shops and kopitiam in the recently completed BTO project next door (Kebun Baru Court)
  • Quite a few stacks allow owners to have a “private” recess area outside their flats, in particular stacks 111 and 135

What we dislike about the site:

  • Somehow, the block directly facing Bishan Park have stacks that only go up to 4 storeys. This is a major missed opportunity to give more units magnificent unblocked, high-floor views that stretch all the way toward the city
  • Instead, the architect chose to extend the block closer towards the opposite block, leaving only 25 metres between the two blocks with stacks facing head on with one another, which is a bit too close for comfort. Just a slight tweak to angle the blocks away from each other would’ve made a huge difference to the view
  • Far away from the nearest expressway
  • Low floor units facing Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 may face greater traffic noise
  • Will eventually be hemmed in on three sides by high-rise housing
  • A childcare centre within the development would’ve been a nice addition, given the likely demographics here

What else we noted:

  • Drivers will be scratching their heads as to why there’s no direct access to the car park from Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1

Our favourite stacks:

  • 4-room: 115 and 117 (high floors), 121, 123, 133
  • 5-room: 101, 103, 119

Floor Plans of Kebun Baru Edge + Analysis

floor plan aug 2020 ang mo kio hdb bto kebun baru edge
All layouts of the Kebun Bahru Edge. Click/tap to enlarge. Source: HDB

The good:

  • (See “the not-so-good” below)

The not-so-good:

  • Certain unit configurations place the household shelter in the centre of the flat, resulting in more ‘wasted’ corridor space; but the trade off for this is that, for such units, the walls between bedrooms can all be hacked away + the living and dining area is properly squarish

Prices of the Aug 2020 Ang Mo Kio BTO + Analysis

Flat Type Floor Area (sqm) Price Range (excluding grants)
4-room 93-96 $423,000 – $550,000
5-room 113-116 $571,000 – $725,000

Some might get a shock when seeing the prices for Kebun Baru Edge, but we argue that this is actually very reasonable pricing by HDB.

Last November, HDB released a BTO project in Ang Mo Kio, near to Yio Chu Kang MRT, that had a markedly higher starting price of $451,000 for 4-room flats even though that location is hardly superior to this.

Eventually, we foresee resale value after the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) to hit $700,000 for 4-room flats at Kebun Baru Edge, which will be music to the ears of those lucky enough to get a flat here.

With the two “top schools”, even those not interested to sell can expect enquiries from buyers’ agents every so often.

FYI, resale HDB flats in Ang Mo Kio are selling at a median price of $272k, $405k and $555k for 3-, 4- and 5-room flats respectively. Resale flats at Ang Mo Kio are cheaper because of their age–most were built in the mid-to-late 80s.

Who should apply: Parents who dream of getting their child into a “top school”, and those who aren’t reliant on expressways for getting around

 

Stay tuned for our next in-depth review of Bishan and Geylang HDB Aug 2020 BTO launches on 15 August (Saturday)!

99.co August 2020 BTO locational pre-launch reviews:
– HDB Aug 2020 BTO Review (Part 1): Pasir Ris, Tampines, Choa Chu Kang, Tengah
– HDB Aug 2020 BTO Review (Part 2): Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Geylang, Woodlands

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