Situated in the eastern region of Singapore, Paya Lebar has a rich history dating back to the 1830s when it was first settled. The name “Paya Lebar” originates from the Malay language and translates to “broad swamp.”This area was officially documented on a survey map from the 1830s, commissioned by the British Straits Settlements which governed Singapore, Penang, Malacca, and Perak (previously known as Dinging.)

The National Archives have records indicating that by the 1890s, Paya Lebar had become a home to several rural settlements and agricultural areas. Additionally, there was a considerable number of squatters who resided in the region and engaged in farming activities such as producing crops, as well as rearing pigs and poultry for commercial purposes.

Paya Lebar witnessed a prominent landmark in the form of the Singapore International Airport, which commenced its operations on August 20, 1955. It was built to replace Kallang Airport, located approximately 5 kilometers away from the Kallang River. 

Paya Lebar Airport served as the primary destination for all commercial flights to Singapore for 26 years until 1981.

However, when all civil air travel was shifted to Changi, the airport underwent a transformation and became the Paya Lebar Air Base, which currently functions as a military base for both the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the US Air Force. (See also: Paya Lebar Air Base

Early development
During the early stages of settlement, the Malay community formed the majority of the population in the Paya Lebar region. By the 1930s, a number of Malay settlements had cropped up, extending from the neighboring Geylang area. 

It possibly obtained its name from a variation of the Malay term kilang, meaning mill or factory. The area was replete with mills and factories during that period.

The areas of Paya Lebar and Geylang have a similar developmental history and are currently located within the Geylang Planning Area as outlined in the URA Master Plan. 

Back in 1963, the government launched an urban redevelopment initiative known as the Geylang Serai Housing Redevelopment Scheme, which was one of the earliest projects of its kind. This program sought to improve the living conditions of residents in the Geylang and Paya Lebar areas by modernizing the housing estates and revitalizing the surrounding infrastructure.

By initiating this scheme, the government demonstrated its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for Singaporeans, particularly those living in older and more traditional neighborhoods. In the 1980s, Geylang underwent significant transformation as the traditional kampung houses were replaced by modern shopping malls, industrial estates, and public housing flats.

Today, Geylang is a bustling area with over 87,300 residents and more than 30,000 flats as of March 2018, according to the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Nevertheless, the area’s rich Malay heritage has been carefully preserved, particularly in Geylang Serai, which is among Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements.

Sri Geylang Serai, a public housing complex, was integrated with the bustling Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre, one of the busiest wet markets in the country.

To keep up with Singapore’s rapid industrialization progress, later redevelopment plans for Paya Lebar focused on expanding its industrial sector. According to the URA 1996 Development Plan, the land surrounding the Paya Lebar Air Base was earmarked for conversion into industrial estates. 

Additionally, the Jurong Town Corp was tasked with developing a significant wafer fabrication park along Tampines Avenue 10.

Commercial hub
The 2008 URA Master Plan included plans for the redevelopment of Paya Lebar and Geylang into a sub-regional commercial center. The primary objective was to attract businesses away from the congested central business district and towards these commercial hubs located on the fringes of the city.

The goal for Paya Lebar Central, which is situated adjacent to the Paya Lebar MRT Interchange Station, was to convert it into a hub for commercial activities, featuring a mix of retail, commercial, and hotel developments. 

Furthermore, the transportation network was bolstered with the construction of the MacPherson MRT Interchange Station, which is just one stop away from the Paya Lebar MRT Station on the Circle Line, ensuring that commuters have easy access to the Downtown Line. 

As per the redevelopment plan, Paya Lebar Quarter was built by the Australian developer Lendlease in 2019. The integrated development, which cost $3.7 billion, was aimed at contributing to the URA’s initiative to transform the 12-hectare Paya Lebar Central precinct into a sub-regional business hub. (See also: URA Master Plan)

The development, situated at the intersection of Sims Avenue and Paya Lebar Road consists of the PLQ Mall, three Grade-A office towers, and three residential blocks known as Park Place Residences. 

In addition, the PLQ Mall is directly linked to the Paya Lebar MRT Interchange Station, which provides access to the East-West and Circle Lines for commuters. 

MRT Stations that are nearby: 

  • Paya Lebar EW8,CC9
  • Dakota CC8 
  • Eunos EW7 
  • Aljunied EW9 
  • Mountbatten CC7

There are many malls and dining choices in the vicinity of The Continuum, particularly in the Paya Lebar Quarter area. Individuals who opt to drive can arrive at these locations in around 5 minutes.

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