Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for National Development (a) what are the criteria for development works to require a heritage impact assessment (HIA); (b) whether the Bukit Brown Cemetery will qualify under the criteria; (c) whether one of the criteria will include a reasonable number of not-for-profit organisations or members of the public deeming the site to be of heritage value; (d) for sites where a HIA is deemed unnecessary by URA and NHB, whether the Government will commit to publishing findings from heritage studies that have been conducted.
Mr Desmond Lee: We have a systematic approach to incorporate heritage considerations in our planning and development process. Every development proposal is subject to a robust planning evaluation process that considers its impact on traffic, public health, environment and built heritage. URA and NHB regularly engage and collaborate with expert panels, such as the Heritage and Identity Partnership (HIP) and Heritage Advisory Panel (HAP), as well as the community, upstream in the planning process to integrate heritage buildings and structures sensitively into our modern cityscape.
To complement this approach, we introduced a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) framework in March 2022. Under this framework, public projects likely to cause major impact to significant heritage sites will be assessed to ascertain the need for heritage studies or other mitigating measures. The scale and scope of such studies will be dependent on the site contexts and design proposals.
HIAs, the most extensive type of studies, are likely to be necessary only for larger scale public development projects in areas of rich, complex, heritage significance. For other projects that have smaller heritage impact and are assessed to not require a full HIA, URA and NHB will work with developing agencies to study the proposals on a case-by-case basis, including meaningful ways to recall the heritage and identity of the sites.
Under Master Plan 2019, part of the Bukit Brown area is zoned for residential use. The existing cemetery areas will be kept for as long as possible, and these will only be reviewed in the longer term when the need arises.
Ministry of National Development
5 July 2022