Budget debate: Some public sector redevelopment projects likely to require in-depth heritage studies

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SINGAPORE – Large-scale public sector redevelopment projects could also be subjected to in-depth heritage studies underneath a brand new framework to contain stakeholders and the public extra in decision-making processes.

Announcing the brand new heritage affect evaluation (HIA) framework in Parliament on Tuesday (March 8), National Development Minister Desmond Lee stated it marks an essential milestone within the maturation of Singapore’s heritage analysis course of.

Under the brand new framework, public sector projects which are likely to trigger main affect to important heritage websites will want to be assessed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the National Heritage Board (NHB) to decide if heritage studies or different mitigating measures are required.

Should heritage studies be beneficial, their scale and scope shall be determined in accordance with the context of the location.

HIAs, which embody exterior consultants, are probably the most in depth heritage studies that Government businesses can name.

Responding to MP Xie Yao Quan (Jurong GRC), who had requested for an replace on plans for a HIA framework, Mr Lee stated the authorities count on that HIAs shall be triggered just for “larger-scale public development projects in areas of rich and complex heritage significance”.

In a press release, the URA added that these are large-scale projects are ones that affect clusters of buildings and constructions with potential heritage worth, and which maintain significance for a number of teams of stakeholders.

Where HIAs will not be essential, public businesses with technical experience reminiscent of URA and NHB will proceed with the prevailing strategy of assessing the affect of redevelopment projects on heritage themselves.

A URA spokesman stated that as HIAs require extra time and prices – together with an in-depth exterior evaluation – the authorities have to be considered in calling them. 

“The current evaluation process remains relevant and comprehensive in addressing most sites undergoing redevelopment,” stated the spokesman.

While URA didn’t outline “large-scale” or give particular examples of future websites which may require HIAs, it stated these would possibly embody projects reminiscent of future housing estates and enterprise centres.

For redevelopment projects that require HIAs, creating businesses will fee exterior consultants to assess intimately the potential affect of improvement works, the adequacy of proposed mitigating measures, and advocate methods to incorporate constructed heritage parts within the new developments, stated URA.

It added that related stakeholders and the heritage neighborhood can be engaged at “key project milestones”, reminiscent of when the scope of a research is being decided, and when preliminary findings are prepared.

Mr Lee stated findings from HIA studies shall be printed for public suggestions until there are safety or different considerations. Agencies ought to take into account and incorporate as a lot suggestions as doable when fine-tuning their measures to mitigate any affect on constructed heritage.

URA stated the implementation of the framework, which was developed in partnership with NHB, “exemplifies the Government’s commitment to strengthen transparency and accountability in our planning decisions”.

It added that the HIA framework was knowledgeable by a pilot large-scale heritage research of the Old Police Academy web site in Mount Pleasant, performed between August 2018 and September 2019. The authorities had determined to retain six important heritage buildings within the space after the research.

While heritage advocates welcomed the HIA framework, they stated extra readability was wanted on when an HIA can be referred to as.

Singapore Heritage Society president Jack Lee stated he hopes that the authorities will publicly share the factors they use in order that the public might be extra knowledgeable when they’re invited to give suggestions.

Agreeing that the factors might be clearer, Professor Ho Puay Peng, head of the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture, stated the HIA course of and engagement ought to be open and clear for the neighborhood’s buy-in.

International Council on Monuments and Sites Singapore president Yeo Kang Shua famous that whereas there isn’t any standardised HIA format internationally, it is crucial that the scope of every research takes into consideration the pursuits of varied stakeholders, together with native communities.

“As we mature as a nation, HIAs will be an important platform to build consensus on what our heritage is,” he stated.

Dr Lee stated that it might be supreme for personal sector projects to additionally require HIAs.

“Private sites can have much heritage significance – the Government recently confirmed this when it decided to conserve Golden Mile Complex,” he stated.

Reiterating the situations during which a HIA shall be referred to as, a URA spokesman stated large-scale improvement projects impacting clusters of buildings are usually public projects. Private projects, that are usually smaller in scale, will proceed to be assessed utilizing present approaches, stated the spokesman.

Dr Lee additionally stated it is going to be essential for native universities {and professional} our bodies to equip folks with the talents to perform HIAs and environmental affect assessments (EIA), to forestall Singapore from being depending on overseas corporations and professionals for such studies.

He instructed that the Government take into account giving incentives, together with funding, to construct up native experience.

Separately, Minister of State for National Development Faishal Ibrahim stated that the Kampong Gelam Alliance – a bunch of native companies, establishments, landlords and residents within the space – will interact the neighborhood and public later this yr to search their concepts to rejuvenate the heritage precinct.

Dr Faishal famous that heritage precincts have taken successful throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with falling footfall affecting companies.

He stated that as an advisor to the alliance, he’ll work intently with present and new neighborhood stakeholders to protect the heritage that makes Kampong Glam distinctive, and refresh it so it stays related for future generations.

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