This paper identifies and discusses the three challenges: commercial sustainability, policy and innovative design and solutions in heritage conservation in Hong Kong, and how to tackle these challenges.

While adaptive reuse of built heritage is widely agreed to be the way forward for Hong Kong, the challenge is to build community consensus and support, especially in relation to commercial uses of revitalized buildings.

A “quadripartite relationship” involving professional institutions with professionals, and government with NGOs, underpinned by broad-based stakeholder engagement, is considered a possible model for coming up with best practices and standards for heritage conservation that enjoy public trust. For longer term consideration, stakeholders and the government should continue to explore a sustainable funding model for conservation of built heritage, referencing overseas experiences.

The private sector can contribute significantly to heritage conservation. In order to make heritage conservation more viable, a tailored set of building regulations should be developed for heritage buildings.

Longer leases for running heritage projects can help achieve commercial sustainability, even when projects are operated by non-profit organisations.

To encourage private sector initiatives in conserving streetscapes in old urban quarters, the relevant rules and regulatory approach should be relaxed to facilitate projects such as those undertaken by micro-developers to refurbish “tong lau” clusters, so that an important part of Hong Kong’s urban character can be preserved, while continuing to satisfy residential needs without adding to the city’s already high density.

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