HDB Reviews Forfar Heights (SERS Block) Review: Great Facilities, Amenities And View, But Noisy
- December 21, 2021
- 28 min read
Reviewed by Sean on December 21, 2021
What we like
- Sheltered walkway to Queenstown MRT station (Less than 5 minute's walk)
- Great view of southern region of Singapore for south facing stacks
- Level 23 Sky garden has ample open area with facilitates
- Amenities within the development
What we don't like
- —Above ground MRT and two major road noise
- —Smaller unit size for 3- and 4-room unit type
Forfar Heights is actually a relatively old estate made up of a total of 5 blocks whose lease started in 2006. As a result of the relocation of the SERS beneficiaries at Tanglin Halt and Commonwealth, several new BTOs were built and this new block that we are reviewing today is one of them.
But unlike the other new BTOs, this forms part of the older Forfar Heights estate. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it merged with the old though – the new Forfar Heights block is different in so many ways such that the only thing it has in common with the old block is the name and the multi-storey car park (that it shares).
In fact, the new project could have even gotten its own name if it wasn’t for the latter! The development packs a punch of its own given it has its very own commercial block (2-storeys), rooftop garden, sky garden and ground-level facilities. Aesthetically, it’s a stark contrast with its green and white colour palette too.
And so since there are numerous new projects around the Dawson precinct, this new block does stand to receive some competition – particularly since it isn’t the only new development to be close to Queenstown MRT. And when it reaches its MOP, we do anticipate 4-room flat prices to be in the $800K range. So should you consider this development once units are available for sale? Read on to find out more!
Forfar Heights (SERS Block) Insider Tour
In the Forfar Heights estate, every single block has a drop-off point. But since our tour is confined to the new SERS block, we’ll only be looking at the block’s one and only drop-off point. While the block is located right by the junction of 2 major roads, the only way to get in is through the quieter Strathmore Avenue.
The drop-off point is a roundabout design. As you arrive, you’re greeted by a circular area filled with flora – always a welcoming site!
But unlike other roundabouts, this one takes greenery to the next level – literally:
It may not be so obvious here at the front, but the drop-off shelter is lined with greenery at the top, serving both an aesthetic function as well as cooling down the overall structure. Considering its location atop the shelter which is rather inaccessible, I’m surprised to see that it’s doing quite well on its own! A pessimistic person might say it’s wildly overgrown, but I like to think it has a certain charm to it (the sides do need some cleaning up though).
The drop-off is quite spacious and airy, and it is able to fit just 1 car at a time under the shelter. There’s also ample seating here which bodes well for residents here who have to wait longer for their ride.
I really like the design here. It’s got a modern white and grey look which is expected for an HDB this new. Notice the mesh behind the seats? These help to reduce rainwater from coming through in the event of strong winds. They could have easily built a concrete wall, but the semi-transparent structure allows more light and wind through which is smart.
Even the seats here are quite decent. It sports a wooden look with a grey accent that is consistent with the drop-off area too!
Moving in, you’ll find that this drop-off is directly connected to the lift lobby just a few steps away. There’s also a shelter along the way which protects you from the elements of the rain.
Now that you’ve seen the drop-off area, let’s check out the car park. As with most HDB estates, the car park is of a multi-storey variety and is also directly linked to the drop-off point via a sheltered walkway so visitors and residents can take a comfortable walk to their block.
Since Forfar Heights is not a new development area, the new block here shares the car park with the older blocks – which definitely looks dated. From my walk around the Dawson area, most of the new multi-storey car park blocks here have some sort of planter feature along the walls which is absent in this case.
Now if you head up to the top floor, you’ll find the multi-story car park rooftop garden:
We won’t be exploring this more in detail given it is part of the old block, though, from this perspective, you can see that there isn’t really much more to say except that the garden area is very long and looks well-maintained! It is also one of those hidden in plain sight type of space, so you probably aren’t going to get many people visiting (especially with the way more well known SkyParc, SkyTerrace and SkyVille next door).
It’s also here that you’ll find a Sparkletots Preschool – really convenient for residents staying in this block (and for the others in Forfar Heights too).
You’ll also find that the carpark here has a sheltered walkway to block 53B, which is this development’s very own dedicated commercial block!
This commercial block is a deceptive one on the outside. It may not look like much, but it actually contains a good amount of stuff. It’s 3 storeys high and each level offers a mix of amenities as well as facilities.
On level one, you’ll find several commercial shops, including a convenience store, a clinic, a hair salon as well as an outlet that looks to be a future F&B shop!
The commercial block also features another preschool that’s located on the upper level (level 2) – My First Skool, another familiar childcare centre.
I think it’s safe to say that this development has more than enough preschools!
Heading up to the top level (level 3), you’ll find a rooftop garden. Since this isn’t located at the car park but on the commercial block itself, the space isn’t very big. That said, I’m quite pleasantly surprised that there is one, to begin with considering that the multi-storey car park itself already has a rooftop garden. And if that isn’t enough to satisfy, this block also has a sky garden which I’ll get to later.
Once you step out, I’m pleased to say that there’s a lot of greenery here (which is quite expected from a development with plants on top of the drop-off shelter). There’s even a board here that points out the different plants that have been planted around.
The first impression is that the place is really well-maintained, but I’d chalk it up to newness more than good maintenance (for now, at least).
You’ll find that there are plenty of seating areas too, both sheltered and unsheltered. Even the trellis here has greenery all over it, providing it with natural shade and giving the place a much warmer and organic feel.
However, I must say that this wouldn’t be my top pick to relax in due to its location right by the junction and MRT track. It’s hard to convey it through images, but with the heat, road noise and occasional noise of the MRT pulling in and out of the station, this does not seem like a place I’d stay in for long. Perhaps during the evening as things start to wind down if you are just after a spot of privacy.
At the perimeter of the garden, you’ll easily see the 4-way junction and MRT track. Given its low level, there isn’t much to expect in terms of views too though.
That said, it is still quite a functional space given the relatively small playground over here. Judging from the size and type of playground, I reckon it was catered more to the childcare centres found below.
You’ll also notice that privacy is a concern here for lower floor units. The southern orientation of the blocks faces a part of the rooftop garden, and it’s not just the service yard we’re talking about here, but the living quarters. While this may seem like a concern, rooftop gardens like this are usually not well-utilised. It’s certainly nowhere as unfortunate as those facing the multi-storey car park and thankfully there aren’t any stacks here that do.
Now before we head down to see the facilities, let’s head up to the Sky Garden, located on level 23.
Coming out of the lift, you’ll notice 2 signs pointing to the Sky Garden/Roof Garden, indicating that this entire level is dedicated to this facility. There are no units sharing this level.
The Sky Garden is divided into 4 sections, and they’re found at the different corners on this level.
First, let’s check out the north-facing side. The north-facing side of the Sky Garden is actually the less exciting part and it’s pretty obvious once you see it as the area is surrounded by high concrete walls.
This may seem like a wasted opportunity (much like at Skyline I & II @ Bukit Batok), however, the view here isn’t really worth the jaunt up here either since it faces the old HDB block directly.
As a result of the high walls, the facility offering here does seem to be a little awkward. For example, you’ll find an outdoor swing set here. On its own, it seems pretty nifty. But when considering the lack of a view here, this outdoor swing set seems to be rather misplaced.
There are also ample seats around here, but again, due to the high walls, there really isn’t much of a view when seated.
If you look towards the northeast side though, you do get decent views of the Dawson HDBs as well as the Redhill/CBD area.
Now let’s head over to the south side, where you’ll find what is designated to be the fun corner. As the name implies, the place is designated for activities, and you’ll find an open area with some square grids and hopscotch too.
I’m not sure about you, but it doesn’t look particularly exciting (I might not be the right age group for this). Perhaps a see-saw could’ve been a cool toy to place here, considering it’s not much of a safety hazard as opposed to a climbing structure.
You’ll also find that the walls here are quite high, and I believe it’s for a good reason since this is the fun zone where children would run and jump about.
To wrap things up, you will find a fitness area in the Sky Garden. Here, you’ll see a couple of very edgy-looking static fitness stations. I have toured many HDBs and these are by far some of the nicest outdoor fitness equipment I’ve seen!
There is also some machine equipment here with quite a modern look too. The highlight of the Sky Garden here isn’t the fitness equipment though, it’s the unblocked views towards the southern waterfront:
From here, you’ll be treated to views towards Telok Blangah Park and you can even catch a glimpse of the sea! Unfortunately, the sea view isn’t as visible from level 23, however, you’ll find that this view is still possible to get along the common corridors of the higher floors.
And unlike the remaining parts of the Sky Garden, this one here has railings that provide so that you can take in the full view of the area.
Now that we’ve seen the Sky Garden, let’s see what the common corridor here looks like. First off, you’ll find that there are 3 lifts at the only lift lobby of the block.
In total, there are 247 units. With 3 lifts, wait times here should not be too much of a concern, as lifts tend to wait at the ground/top floor should nobody be using it to reduce waiting times.
On the residential level, you’ll find that most units here (depending on the stack) have their own private area. It’s rare to find new HDBs having this, so it’s quite a surprising feature!
Overall, the corridors here are bright and airy as the walls are not so high up, so there’s lots of ventilation here. One downside here is that you can look into your neighbour’s service yard.
This isn’t a big deal though, considering how little time is spent here. It’s much better than those that face the street or into your neighbour’s home directly.
Finally, let’s head back down to check out the ground floor facilities. First, we have the precinct pavilion which is located right by the drop-off point – always good for when you expect to have visitors.
The shelter here is bright and airy, and much like the drop-off point, even the top of the shelter has greenery which is aesthetically pleasing and also serves to cool down the shelter.
The benches here are also tucked away at the sides so it does not obstruct the event space, however, I must add that the lack of fans here could make it an uncomfortable spot during hot weather.
Next up, you’ll find the usual elderly and adult fitness corner. The elderly fitness corner is quite lacking in equipment, but given the nearby Park Connector is littered with equipment from other developments, I would not fuss over it.
The adult fitness corner is right next to this, and on first impression, it seems very clean and well-maintained. Again, I’d chalk this up to the newness of the place – only time will tell if it’ll remain this way! Like with the ones at the Sky Garden, this also sports a very edgy look, telling of how new the development is.
Next, you’ll find the development’s main playground which is located in front of the south-facing stacks. The playground here is really unique – nothing like I’ve seen before. I do really like the simplistic pastel turquoise theme going on here.
Aesthetics aside, I think a more traditional playground with slides and bridges would have been more fun for children. This looks more like an artists’ concept of what a playground would look like deconstructed.
Given that residents would frequent the playground quite often, you’ll probably find that the trees here would require more maintenance. As such, lower floor units might find the trees being trimmed regularly which reduces its effectiveness as a noise and privacy barrier.
And that leads me to my next point – the noise. From the playground, it’s quite clear that this isn’t a peaceful development, to begin with – especially for those facing this end. The noise coming from the road/MRT is quite obvious, so those facing this side should be wary of this, especially those on the higher floors.
Finally, to round off our ground tour, we have a sheltered seating area. This is found within the void deck, and I must say that even the design of this seating area is quite sleek and unique! Due to its location, the area here isn’t as hot since it’s not directly exposed to the sun, so it’s a perfect place for parents to find shelter while their kids are at the playground.
Forfar Heights (SERS Block) Location Review
Forfar Heights is located quite close to both SkyVille@Dawson and SkyTerrace@Dawson, and if you’ve read our previous reviews on both developments, you’ll know that the Park Connector Network is very close by. While it’s not right next to it unlike the two aforementioned developments, it is just a short 1-2 minute’s walk away.
The Park Connector it’s situated on actually ends here, so residents who wish to use only the Park Connector would have only 1 direction to head towards – the CBD. The route is actually very pleasant, and it passes through residential enclaves along the Alexandra Canal.
However, in the years to come, you can expect that area to be less than tranquil as it’s recently been announced that a residential plot along this canal is the site for a new HDB.
Those who cycle can easily reach Great World City in about 20 minutes, and Marina Bay Sands in about 40 minutes at a leisurely pace.
The Green Corridor is also very accessible from here. Residents would only need to make a slight detour through Mei Chin Road, which can be reached in a couple of minutes. Given its location sort of at the midpoint of the Green Corridor, you’ll have the option of either heading north or south!
Both of these advantages are present to SkyVille and SkyTerrace, but there’s one other advantage this development has over others – its proximity to malls.
While I wouldn’t say Queenstown is a shopping extravaganza, it’s just about a 10-minute walk to IKEA, Anchor Point and Queensway Shopping Centre. By contrast, residents at SkyVille@Dawson would have to walk for about 16 minutes. Fine margins, I know.
It is also closer to Dawson Place (about a 3-4 minute walk) which houses the extremely convenient 24-hour NTUC Fairprice.
The downsides to its location are obvious: the southern stacks directly face a 4-way junction an MRT track. As such, noise is a genuine concern here. What’s good is that it hints at great public transport accessibility which I’ll cover next.
|Bus station||Buses Serviced||Distance From HDB (& Est. Walking Time)|
|‘Blk 53A CP’||111, 145, 186, 51, 970||1-minute (50m)|
|‘Queens Condo’||111, 145, 186, 195, 195A, 51, 970, NR5||2-minute (100m)|
Closest MRT: Queenstown MRT – 5-minute walk.
A strong advantage of Forfar Heights is its proximity to a relatively central MRT – Queenstown MRT. The development is only a 4-5 minute walk away since you can cut through the development. The best part is that the journey is also fully sheltered. This makes it more convenient than SkyVille@Dawson and certainly more so than SkyTerrace@Dawson/SkyParc@Dawson.
The journey to the bus stop along Commonwealth Avenue is also fully sheltered and leads right up to the commercial block at Forfar Heights. As such, it’s obvious that Forfar Heights has the best connectivity among the 3 Dawson projects that we’ve reviewed so far.
|Key Destinations||Distance From HDB (& Est. Peak Hour Drive Time)|
|Raffles Place||5.8 km (12 mins drive)|
|Orchard Road||4.9 km (10 mins drive)|
|Suntec City||7.2 km (15 mins drive)|
|Changi Airport||27.5 km (37 mins drive)|
|Tuas Port||30.7 km (46 mins drive)|
|Paya Lebar Quarter||11.5 km (22 mins drive)|
|Mediapolis||3.2 km (8 mins drive)|
|Mapletree Business City||3.8 km (8 mins drive)|
|Tuas Checkpoint||27.2 km (39 mins drive)|
|Woodlands Checkpoint||27.2 km (35 mins)|
|Harbourfront Cluster||5.5 km (12 mins)|
|Punggol Cluster||21.4 km (36 mins)|
Immediate road exit:
Drivers might want to take note that the exit from the PIE through Farrer Road back to Strathmore Avenue could be quite packed during peak hours. It isn’t particularly close to any expressway either except for the AYE which gives it great connectivity to the east or the west side.
|Name of Grocery Shop||Distance from HDB (& Est Time)|
|24-hour NTUC FairPrice||Dawson Place, 3-min walk|
|Sheng Siong||SkyVille@Dawson, 4-min walk|
|Educational Tier||Number of Institutes|
|Primary School (Within 1KM)||2|
|Other Tertiary Institutes||–|
Sparkletots Preschool – Within the development
My First Skool – Within the development
E-Bridge – 700m (8 min walk)
Queenstown Primary – 800m (9 min walk)
Gan Eng Seng Primary School – 1.9 km (22 min walk)
Queenstown Secondary – 0.7 km (8 min walk)
Bukit Merah Secondary – 15 min by bus
Crescent Girls’ School – 11 min by bus
Queensway Secondary School – 15 min by Bus
Anglo-Chinese Junior College – 20 min by MRT
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) – 17 min by MRT > Bus
Singapore Polytechnic – 15 min by MRT
- Lack of diverse food options in the immediate vicinity
Residents can look forward to more F&B options once site A is completed:
Site A (aka SkyResidence @ Dawson) would house a 2-storey hawker centre that is actually the relocation of the Tanglin Halt market. This is extremely exciting for residents around, as it would mean a diverse amount of food options in the area! As the hawker centre is big, there would be an entrance from the main Commonwealth Avenue as well as the park connector, putting residents at just about an 8-minute walk to it.
As of this writing, some residents here have already moved in, so I’m pretty sure by the time you can buy a unit here, the hawker centre should be ready.
There is also a coffee shop at SkyVille @ Dawson, just opposite SkyParc @ Dawson. For Muslim residents though, the lack of Halal food options could be a concern as there is only 1 stall (Nasi Padang) that’s suitable.
Residents can visit Dawson Place (~4 min walk) with a Subway and a food centre (Koufu). Once the BTOs at Site A is done, it would bring an additional 2-storey hawker centre (40 stalls) to the mix.
If you are a little more adventurous, you can also head to the Zion Riverside Food Centre and the newly revamped Great World City with plenty of eateries there – these are accessible via the Park Connector directly.
F&B options at Valley Point Shopping Centre, which is about a 10 minute bicycle ride away (or 30-minute by foot), are also an option here, though food options here leave much to be desired.
- The Dawson rejuvenation hasn’t ended
In addition to the new hawker centre from the completion of the BTOs at Dawson Site A and B, Site A would bring in 19 shops, a supermarket, an education centre, a student care centre and an RC centre. Site B will bring in 3 shops, a minimart, a childcare centre as well as a senior citizen centre.
- Upcoming competition in the Dawson area
Following on from my pointers above, do take note that these additional sites (A & B) would pose as competition to site E. They’re both also very close to the MRT, and each has pretty strong commercial offerings too. And while they are quite noisy due to the tracks, these 2 sites do not face an intersection.
- Ethnic quota issues
While a lack of transactions at the new block means we can’t be sure of the ethnic quota issue, Queenstown is an estate known to have even greater difficulty for Malays/Indian & Other Races to sell to others within their category.
The above image shows the opposite block (lease started in 2006) still having issues where Chinese buyers can only buy from Chinese flat sellers.
As such, those buying under the “Malay/Indian/Others” category should take note that offloading the unit in the future could be difficult, and so a better price should be reached as the 1st buyer to limit your downside loss.
Forfar Heights (SERS Block) Site Review
The relocation of the SERS beneficiaries from Tanglin Halt/Commonwealth Drive to the Dawson area has resulted in several new developments like SkyParc@Dawson, SkyResidence@Dawson and SkyOasis@Dawson. However, this development is special in that it is actually a new block within an older HDB development.
The land on which the current block 53 sits was formerly a church with a huge parking area. This was torn down to make way for the new development.
There is only 1 block here with 247 units in total with flats ranging from 2 to 4-room types. In total, there are 23/43 floors with a Sky Garden on level 23.
Depending on the floor, there are either 5 or 7 units in total – certainly not as private as SkyTerrace@Dawson, but more so than at SkyVille@Dawson.
One thing I’d like to highlight is the unique dumbbell layouts of the 3 and 4-room flat types here:
The use of dumbbell layouts is more efficient since there’s no waste space dedicated to the hallway. However, one downside to this is that the airconditioning waterpipe has to be pumped out of 1 room which could be more expensive and does create some background noise during use.
Another thing to note is that the windows in the living room are full-length, however, those in the bedrooms are only 3/4 in length. I won’t see this is as a negative point though, as 3/4 is still quite decent in my books. Moreover, a smaller window does give a little bit more privacy – especially since many of the stacks here front of the intersection and the MRT track.
In terms of design, you’ll find the use of green and white stucco paint which I find really refreshing. It’s also in line with the whole greenery theme going on here!
This is evident as you walk around the project’s grounds. Lots of flora are lined along wooden walkways, with trees generously planted and well maintained – almost like a mini botanical garden of sorts.
You’ll also find signs here pointing out the sustainability factor such as the use of bioretention basins used to slow and treat on-site stormwater runoff.
|Block||2 Room||3 Room||4 Room||Total|
South facing stacks will, unfortunately, face the main Alexandra Road as well as the MRT line. My visit during the day does indicate that it can get quite noisy, however, we had feedback from residents staying here that the night traffic here is fine.
On higher floors, the MRT sounds can be quite loud though up until the last train. And of course, closing the windows does help quite a fair bit.
That said, the noise may be worth tolerating given the fantastic views (on high floors) that residents have of the southern region:
Those looking to purchase a 3-room flat here may want to go for stack 169. It has a quieter facing, and those on very high floors overlook the block opposite, giving it a nice view of the greenery at Dempsey:
There are also views of HDBs here, and while this usually isn’t spectacular, I must say the ones here are probably as good as it gets!
Forfar Heights (SERS Block) Price Review
|Projects||Lease Start Date||3 Room||4 Room||5 Room|
|80 – 83 Strathmore Ave||1993/97||$708,000 – $715,000||$918,000 – $948,000|
|Forfar Heights (Old)||2006||$650,000 – $800,000||$735,000 – $1,000,000|
|SkyTerrace@Dawson||2016||$628,888 – $690,000||$740,000 – $1,032,888||$950,000 – $1,120,000|
|SkyVille@Dawson||2016||$510,000 – $706,000||$650,000 – $908,000||$930,000 – $1,100,000|
|Strathmore Green||2011||$530,000 – $605,000||$680,000 – $850,000||$935,000 – $970,000|
Given how new this project is, there aren’t any transactions here to compare it with. That said, the closest comparison in terms of age would be the 2 existing Sky series.
Upon MOP, we can expect the 3-room flats here to go for high $600+ to $700+ considering how close the project is to the MRT.
However, while I’m inclined to say that proximity to the MRT plays a big part, there’s no denying that SkyVille/SkyTerrace can command its price due to both its architecture as well as its location right next to the Park Connector/Dempsey area. This means that these developments have an edge of being a lot more peaceful while still being relatively close to the MRT.
As for 4-room flats, I do anticipate high floor units here to command prices in the range of $800K+. The reason is again due to its convenience, however, it also does have a very nice unblocked view towards the southern region.
I have been asked countless times whether or not paying for a flat in the Dawson area is worth it. My answer is predictable – it depends. Queenstown is undoubtedly a central location. As you go into Tiong Bahru, you’ll find that flats there are also very expensive – but some do prefer the more tranquil environment at Queenstown given the Alexandra Park Connector, so even though it is pricey, you do get what you pay for.
In addition, the prevailing winds are quite strong in this area, especially from the northern side. As such, even units that are on lower floors (e.g. 5 onwards) will have lots of cross ventilation.
Now, this is where the conundrum really lies. I’ve known buyers who happily pay for a flat here since it’s central and peaceful, however, most of the stacks here do face the MRT and main road so it does take away from this. That said, I am quite sure many would not mind overlooking this for ease of MRT access as we slowly shift away from the whole Work From Home mode of working.
Forfar Heights (SERS Block) is an exciting development to keep a lookout for. It’s got a great level of convenience considering its proximity to MRT and impressive commercial offering.
For a development of just 1 block and 247 units, I’ll go so far as to say that this project is perhaps overkill (in a good way, of course). It has 2 preschools, a minimart, a hairdresser and an upcoming F&B outlet just below. It’s also just 3-4 minute’s away from a 24-hour NTUC FairPrice and a Koufu eating place on the 2nd floor.
Even within the development, it has a rooftop garden on the commercial block, as well as a level dedicated to a Sky Garden with great views over to the southern region. Many big and new projects do not even have either one of these features, so I’m surprised to say that this one project with just 1 block has it all.
The only downside, again, is the noise from the road and MRT. For you to enjoy the natural ventilation at home, you’ll have to open windows on both sides to allow for cross-ventilation, and this would inevitably mean having some loud background noise and the occasional bumps and screeches from the trains. And since the many upcoming HDBs in Dawson are known to be quite peaceful, Forfar Heights does face some stiff competition.
Hopefully, its proximity to the MRT can make it a standout one. For me personally, I do prefer peace and quiet which is hard to find in a centrally-located area, so a couple of minutes more to the MRT is a sufficient tradeoff!
What this means for you
You might like Forfar Heights (SERS Block) if you:
- • Want quick access to the MRT:
There aren’t many new developments in Queenstown that’s close to the MRT. This is already one of the closest!.
- • Are looking for convenience:
With its own amenities right at your doorstep plus an upcoming 40-stall hawker and a 24-hour NTUC a few minute’s away, what more can you ask for?
You may not like Forfar Heights if you:
- • Desire a more tranquil environment:
While the Dawson area is known to be tranquil, Forfar Heights has the unfortunate location right next to an intersection and above ground MRT tracks, so south-facing stacks here would have to bear with some noise.
- • Want a big flat:
The largest unit type here is only a 4-room, and it’s also below the average sizes of 4-room flats. As such, those with large families/looking for spaciousness would need to consider elsewhere.