Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) whether there are any processes in place to ensure the protection of widely-recognised heritage sites, such as Haw Par Villa, which do not fall under the purview of NHB and existing laws that protect heritage sites and national monuments; (b) if not, whether the Ministry will consider implementing regulations to protect heritage sites where its Statutory Boards exercise some regulatory oversight; and (c) whether the Ministry works with other Statutory Boards to provide protection for such heritage sites.
Mr Edwin Tong Chun Fai: The National Heritage Board (NHB) works closely with public sector agencies to incorporate heritage considerations in our land planning and development process through a systematic framework.
Generally, all development proposals are subject to a robust planning evaluation process that considers impact across various aspects, including heritage.
(a) NHB and URA carry out research and documentation efforts to identify these buildings and sites of heritage interest to guide downstream planning.
(b) Sites which are found to have significant heritage value could be further studied for potential conservation or preservation as National Monuments.
(c) In addition, both agencies regularly engage with expert panels, such as the Heritage and Identity Partnership (HIP) and Heritage Advisory Panel (HAP), as well as the community, to seek their views and suggestions on the heritage value of the sites involved. This extends to locations which are not studied for conservation or preservation.
(d) The discussions also involve different ways to consider and recollect the heritage of these sites, such as the documentation of social memories. These could include, for example, installing heritage storyboards or markers, organising programmes, workshops and talks for the public on the heritage of the area and curating guided tours to these heritage sites.
(e) These efforts allow the agencies to make informed decisions on how to integrate heritage sensibly into our modern cityscape while striking a balance between safeguarding our legacy and meeting future development needs.
We are continuing to enhance these processes.
(a) In March 2022, we introduced the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) framework to assess when and how heritage impact studies should be conducted as part of the urban planning process. Under this framework, public projects likely to cause a major impact on significant heritage sites will be assessed to ascertain the need for an in-depth and independent Heritage Impact Assessment. These findings will guide the agencies in developing ways to mitigate the impact of development, as well as engage stakeholders and the community to shape development plans.
For Haw Par Villa, in particular, NHB partnered Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to study and document the park’s heritage features. These efforts have guided the upgrading and conservation works undertaken in 2020 and 2021.
(a) The study included examining the built structures and statuary and recommendations on the appropriate methods to repair the features and upkeep the park’s heritage.
Our heritage buildings and sites anchor our collective social memories, our identity as Singaporeans and the character of our nation. NHB will continue to work closely with agencies, such as URA and STB, to retain and promote our heritage, while maintaining a balance with future development needs.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
7 November 2022