In June 1819, modern founder of Singapore, Thomas Stamford Raffles instructed the first Resident of Singapore, William Farquhar, to reserve the whole space within the Old Lines and the Singapore River (i.e. the northern bank) for public purposes. However, Farquhar found it expedient to allow European merchants to encroach the reserved space as this appeared to be the only suitable site for mercantile firms and godowns, since the southern bank was then too swampy. Farquhar also built a temporary home with an attap roof and kajang walls on the current Singapore Cricket Club site, on the edge which came to be known as Raffles Plain. When Raffles returned to the island in October 1822, Raffles disapproved of the encroaching by mercantile interests of land he had set aside for public use. Raffles immediately countermanded Farquhar's permits, put a stay on all buildings in the area and appointed a committee with strict and explicit instructions on how he wanted the town of Singapore to be planned. As the Esplanade plan had been broken, it was necessary to designate a new site for the town's public buildings. The area chosen was the Padang Besar or simply the Padang, as it is known today.

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