Bukit Timah Link vs Hillview Rise: Which GLS site will come out tops?

By Elizabeth Choong
/ EdgeProp Singapore |
Singapore Quarry in Dairy Farm Nature Park. The Hillview Rise GLS site is near the nature park (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
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Two GLS sites launching this month

There are six sites on the Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme for the second half of this year. Five of the sites are residential sites, including one site for executive condominiums. The remaining site is for commercial and residential use. The Reserve List has six residential sites (including two executive condominium sites), a white site and a hotel site.
Two residential sites will be launched for tender this month – Bukit Timah Link and Hillview Rise. Both sites are near an MRT station on the Downtown Line and they are only a stop away from each other. Despite the close proximity of both sites, the Bukit Timah Link site is in the more prestigious Bukit Timah planning area and in District 21. The Hillview Rise site is in the Bukit Batok planning area and in District 23.

Population demographics for both sites

Eighty-two percent of the population in the Bukit Timah planning area are owner-occupiers and 16% are tenants. Those aged 40 to 54 years make up the largest group, followed by those aged 5 to 14 years; indicating a large presence of families with school-going children. The elderly aged 55 to 69 years also make up a significant portion of the population.
Likewise, a large majority (91%) of the population in the Bukit Batok planning area are owner-occupiers with only 8% being tenants. However, the population in Bukit Batok is younger with the more residents being 25 to 34 years old. There are also more young children below five years old and fewer elderly residents.

Bukit Timah Link site scores highly on connectivity and convenience

The GLS site at Bukit Timah Link is located beside Beauty World MRT Station and across the road from Beauty World Centre. It is a short walk to Bukit Timah Plaza as well as Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre. Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are a quick drive away.
Two upcoming developments in the vicinity will have retail space, thus adding to the existing amenities in the area. The Linq @ Beauty World will have a two-storey retail podium and the upcoming development along Jalan Anak Bukit will have some F&B outlets and retail shops.
Parents of young children will be pleased to know that Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School is a short walk away. There are a total of five schools found within a 2km radius of the site, including the popular Methodist Girls’ School.

The Linq @ Beauty World sold out in two months

The upcoming The Linq @ Beauty World stands on an en-bloc site that was sold in May 2017 to BBR Holdings for $101.5 million. When completed, the freehold development will have 120 condominium units and a two-storey retail podium. It will also be directly linked to Beauty World MRT Station.
The condominium units were first launched for sale in November 2020 and 115 units were sold on the first day of launch. All 120 unit were sold a month later at an average price of $2,378 psf. The outstanding sales performance of The Linq @ Beauty World is a strong testament to the demand for condominium units in the area.

Strong sales performance for other new launches

Other than The Linq @ Bukit Timah, Daintree Residence, Verdale and Forett At Bukit Timah are another three major recent launches within a 1km radius of the site.
Daintree Residence was launched in July 2018 and sold out in September 2021, achieving an average price of $1,881 psf.
Verdale got off to a slow start, selling only 39 units during its launch weekend in September 2020. However, it caught up soon, selling out all its 258 units by May and achieved an average price of $1,814 psf.
Forett At Bukit Timah was launched in August 2020. Take-up rate for project was 94.6% as at July. Average price for the freehold development is $2,106 psf.
The excellent sales performance of the three uncompleted condominiums is a good endorsement of the neighbourhood from home buyers. Additionally, the sold-out or almost-sold-out status of the above-mentioned developments means limited new supply in the area, and hence less competition for the future development on the Bukit Timah Link GLS site.

Jalan Anak Bukit GLS site: a double-edged sword

The Jalan Anak Bukit GLS site, across the road from the Bukit Timah Link GLS site, was awarded to Far East Organization and Sino Group in August last year for $1.03 billion ($989 psf ppr). It will have 700 condominium units, 150 serviced apartments, an integrated transport hub, offices, F&B outlets, retail shops, a plaza and community spaces. The residential units in the integrated project are expected to be launched for sale later this year.
The upcoming project is likely to attract much attention because of its convenience and connectivity. However, future residents will have to put up with more traffic noise from the integrated bus interchange and the nearby PIE.
The future development at the Jalan Anak Bukit GLS site will pose competition to the future condominium at the Bukit Timah Link GLS site. However, it is a double-edged sword because the bus interchange and shops at Jalan Anak Bukit will boost connectivity for the neighbourhood and benefit all residents when they are completed.

Small units for Bukit Timah Link site?

Bearing in mind the relatively mature population and that two-bedroom units account for only 26.9% of all units within a 1km radius of the site, it might be a wise decision for developers to include more two-bedroom units to the development to attract empty-nesters, especially since the upcoming development on the Jalan Anak Bukit site is likely to target families. Some 160 units can be built on the Bukit Timah Link site.

Hillview Rise residents will have sufficient nearby amenities to meet daily needs

The Hillview Rise GLS site was moved from the Reserve List of the GLS programme for the first half of this year to the Confirmed List for the second half of this year.
The GLS site is located within walking distance of Hillview MRT Station and Hillview Community Club. The site is also sandwiched between Dairy Farm Nature Park and Little Guilin in Bukit Batok Town Park.
The Hillview Rise GLS site is beside HillV2 which has a supermarket and several casual restaurants to cater to the daily needs of residents. Residents can take a longer walk to The Rail Mall and enjoy a larger variety of cafés and bistros as well as a supermarket. For larger malls, Junction 10 is a short drive away, while Hillion Mall and Bukit Panjang Plaza are two MRT stops away.
Parents will be pleased to know that there are 10 schools within a 2km radius of the Hillview Rise GLS site, which is double the number of schools located near the Bukit Timah Link GLS site.

Larger units for Hillview Rise site?

With the presence of numerous schools plus the demographics for the planning area, it makes sense for the successful bidder of the Hilllview Rise GLS site to develop a family-friendly development. As there is a limited number of units with at least four bedrooms within a 1km radius of the site, it might be a winning strategy to have more large units or even dual-key units.

Likely to launch at a palatable price level

There are two uncompleted condominiums located within a 1km radius of the Hillview Rise GLS site. Midwood is located just beside the subject site. The leasehold condominium was launched in October 2019 and all 564 units were sold out by May. Average price as at 2Q2022 was $1,691 psf.
Mont Botanik Residence is located further away from the GLS site. The 108-unit condominium was launched in August 2018 and only one unit remains unsold. The development achieved an average price of $1,784 psf as at 2Q2022. Mont Botanik Residence achieved a higher average price than Midwood due to its freehold tenure.
The 335 condominium units that can be built on the Hillview Rise GLS site are likely to be launched at similar price levels as the average prices of Midwood and Mont Botanik Residence. The average prices for both uncompleted condominiums are a good indicator of the price level deemed acceptable by buyers of new condominiums in the neighbourhood.

Large tracts of undeveloped land near Hillview Rise site

Currently, there are no upcoming launches within a 2km radius, which means no new supply in the vicinity and hence limited competition for the future project on the Hillview Rise GLS site. However, the lack of new developments is not expected to remain unchanged because there are lots of undeveloped land near the site. The surrounding plots of land are designated under the Master Plan for residential, education and special use.
Besides construction noise, residents will potentially have to put up with noise from a school because a land plot just beside the Hillview Rise GLS site is designated for education use. There will also be more traffic along Hillview Avenue once the school is operational. However, some residents who have school-going children may gladly tolerate the noise and traffic in exchange for the convenience of having a school just across the road.
The nearby land plot, designated for special use, is probably set aside for military use. Bukit Gombak Camp is located nearby.

Which GLS site is better?

The Bukit Timah Link site would seem to be more appealing site for developers because there are more existing and future amenities in the vicinity. The site is also in a more established and prestigious residential enclave.
Based on the average prices of recent launches, the future development at the Bukit Timah Link site can be launched at a higher price point compared to the Hillview Rise site. However, this would make the future development at Bukit Timah Link less attractive to buyers with a smaller budget. As both sites are only an MRT stop away from each other, buyers with a more modest budget may turn to the future development at the Hillview Rise site as a more affordable alternative.
The upcoming integrated development at Jalan Anak Bukit will pose keen competition to the future development at the Bukit Timah Link site. However, the risk to developers is mitigated by the smaller size of site, which translates to less capital outlay and fewer units to be sold. The smaller capital outlay plus the Upper Bukit Timah location may also attract a larger variety of developers, including niche players, to bid for the site.
While there are no new launches near the Hillview Rise site at the moment, it is unlikely to remain that way for long because it is near large tracts of undeveloped land that are designated for residential use.
The future development at Hillview Rise will appeal to far-sighted buyers who are prepared to put up with some inconvenience and future construction noise in exchange for potential capital appreciation. Resale residential prices for District 23 have grown 51% since 2012, outpacing District 21 (22%) and the whole Singapore (34%). However, the buyer must time their sale carefully after taking into account lease decay and competition from future new condominiums.

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