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The future of Mount Pleasant

The inevitable has happened - soon, much of the historic Old Police Academy in the Mount Pleasant area will be demolished for an HDB estate.

The Old Police Academy opened in 1929 as the Police Depot, then was renamed the Police Training School (below) in 1945, and the Police Academy in 1969. It was the primary training facility for the Police until the Home Team Academy opened in 2006 at Old Choa Chu Kang Road.

Credit: Remember Singapore.

When plans for Mount Pleasant MRT Station were announced with the rest of the Thomson-East Coast Line in 2012, I already knew the physical heritage of the Mount Pleasant area was on borrowed time.

The arrival of an MRT station to an undeveloped area always means future intensive development - that is the only way the construction of billion-dollar infrastructure can be justified. It is only a matter of time before the development takes place. In the case of the Mount Pleasant area, it will take up to 15 years - the first flats go on sale in five years.

When plans for the 33-hectare HDB estate were released, I hurriedly studied maps showing the layout of development.

Credit: The Straits Times.

Fortunately, it seems effort has been put into ensuring the estate avoids much of the natural heritage of the area. The forest surrounding the colonial bungalows and the Heritage Road known as Mount Pleasant Road will be untouched.

More importantly, the Hokkien cemetery known as Kopi Sua (below) lying to the west of the estate will also be untouched - for now. In fact, the original plan had called for the road network of the estate to cut through the cemetery, but was later revised to allow access via Onraet Road instead, avoiding the cemetery.

I have a keen interest in the fate of Kopi Sua, because my paternal grandfather rests there. For the time being, he - and I - can rest easy.

Looking ahead, there is still the unresolved issue of the Circle Line’s Bukit Brown MRT Station to the north of the Mount Pleasant area.

Presently, Bukit Brown MRT Station remains a “shell”, to be activated and open in the future when the area is more intensively developed. This involves the fate of much of Bukit Brown Cemetery, which to me has far, far greater heritage value than the Old Police Academy.


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