Completion of the assessment of 1,444 historic buildings announced

"The completion of the comprehensive assessment on the 1,444 historic buildings in Hong Kong was an important milestone in the heritage conservation work in Hong Kong," a spokesman for the Development Bureau said today (March 19).

The Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) announced today that an expert panel under the AAB has completed the assessment on the heritage value of 1,444 buildings in Hong Kong. The assessment result, together with the proposed grading by the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO), was submitted to the AAB for consideration today.

Under the proposal, 212 are proposed to be Grade I, 366 are Grade II, and 576 are Grade III. There is no proposed grading for the remaining 290 buildings. Currently, there are 543 graded historic buildings in Hong Kong.

The public are welcomed to submit information to AAB in the coming four months. The AAB will consider the preliminary gradings proposed by the AMO and such information submitted by the public with a view to making a decision on the gradings in the coming meetings.

"This is the most comprehensive assessment of the heritage value of historic buildings ever conducted in Hong Kong.

We are very grateful to the hard work of the Expert Panel and the members' enthusiasm in the heritage conservation work in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.

The list of proposed Grade I buildings by the AMO, if approved by the AAB, will be regarded as providing a pool of highly valuable heritage buildings for consideration by the Antiquities Authority as to whether some of these may have reached the "high threshold" of monuments to be put under statutory protection. In case these buildings are under demolition threat, the Antiquities Authority may declare them as proposed monument in order to provide immediate protection to these buildings.

Moreover, the proposed gradings by the AMO (including Grade I, II and III), if approved by the AAB, will form the basis for implementation of various heritage conservation measures, including the Heritage Impact Assessment mechanism applicable for government capital works projects and the financial assistance scheme which subsidises private owners in maintaining their historic buildings. Suitable Government-owned graded historic buildings will be selected to be included in the "Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme" for adaptive re-use through the operation of social enterprises by non-profit-making organisations with funding support from Government.

A territory-wide survey on historic buildings in Hong Kong mainly built before 1950 was carried out by the AMO in 1996-2000, during which some 8,800 buildings were recorded. A more in-depth survey of 1,444 buildings with higher heritage value selected from the 8,800 surveyed buildings was carried out by AMO in 2002-2004. An Expert Panel comprising historians and members of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Hong Kong Institute of Planners and Hong Kong Institute of Engineers was formed in March 2005 by the AAB to undertake an in-depth assessment of the heritage value of these buildings.

Ends/Thursday, March 19, 2009
Issued at HKT 20:01