Singaporeans lament Orto leisure park’s imminent closure next year

The Orto leisure park on Lorong Chencharu. Photo: Orto/Facebook
The Orto leisure park on Lorong Chencharu. Photo: Orto/Facebook

A 24-hour leisure park in Yishun has been informed that they’ll soon have to vacate to make way for new housing developments and some Singaporeans are just not having it.

The Singapore Land Authority told The Straits Times yesterday that they have informed Orto leisure park and non-profit Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) that they will have to relocate from their current homes within 70,000 sqm state land in Lorong Chencharu when their leases come up on June 30, 2023.

But some residents are upset that the tiny city-state is ceding recreational and green spaces to public housing once again.

“Wow this is really sad. We are already lacking places for recreation and leisure,” Joe Adam reacted to the news in the outlet’s comments section.

“Please give us some breathing places, we want more greens now to counter the impact of urban heat island effect and climate change. Didn’t you realise that we are destroying the habitat of wild animals and birds?” Susan Lau wrote on Facebook.

The leisure park, which opened in 2014 after taking over Bottle Tree Park, occupies over 51,500 sqm of the land. It has 14 tenants which include several alfresco food outlets, a trampoline park, prawning and fishing businesses, and The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum.

GUI, which is also located within Orto’s grounds, is a nonprofit that hosts programs focusing on sustainability through farming, cooking and crafts.

The Housing & Development Board is currently doing works in the northwest of Orto’s grounds but has spared 11 sites around Lorong Chencharu used by aquarium fish export centers whose leases have recently been renewed for 10 years.

Chencharu was named as one of the new housing areas by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

According to Orto spokesman Clifford Loh, some of the park’s tenants might move to a two-story commercial building near Haw Par Villa MRT station on 27 West Coast Highway.

Several large spaces and iconic neighborhoods have been redeveloped for public housing in recent years including one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, Dakota Crescent, and Kranji woodlands, which developers mistakenly cleared more of what was planned.

More comments online showed that some Singaporeans wanted to stand their ground by starting a petition to save the park while others got sentimental over the beloved outdoor space.

“We don’t need more housing, we need more kampong to keep us rooted. Let’s petition to keep this place,” Regina Tan wrote.

“I love seeing Orto on my train home rides, especially at night. Such a beautiful near nature leisure park,” Muslihah Md Nor wrote. 

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