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Policy Analysis Exercise: “Striking the balance between heritage conservation and urban renewal in Singapore: Advocating for a mandatory Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Regime” (2015)
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Singapore Heritage Society was the client organisation for this Policy Analysis Exercise of the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Policy (LKYSPP). The report was completed in December 2015, and can be downloaded in full here.
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Striking the balance between heritage conservation and urban renewal in Singapore: Advocating for a mandatory Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Regime

by Trent Ng (Master of Public Policy, 2016)

Executive Summary:

The rapid redevelopment of the urban landscape in Singapore since independence ha had a major impact on many sites of cultural and heritage value in Singapore. There is currently no regulatory or legal requirement for the government, private developers or individuals to conduct Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) on such sites before attempting to redevelop it or modify its land use. Consequently to date, many historical sites, buildings and monuments rich in culture and history have been razed in the name of modernisation and development without a proper assessment of the resulting loss of culture and heritage.

A mandatory HIA regime in Singapore would require an assessment of the impact on both tangible and intangible heritage whenever a site of heritage value is considered for redevelopment or change in land use. While this practice would lead to a greater awareness of objects of national heritage and enable better-informed decisions to be made regarding redevelopment, the corollary of a mandatory HIA regime would also mean higher public accountability and compromises, leading to potential delays, a drop in optimum economic efficiency, and potentially even sacrificing whole redevelopment projects in the protection of national heritage.

How can an autochthonous HIA regime be tailored for the Singapore context, such as to balance the need for heritage protection with Singapore’s insatiable obsession with urban renewal and redevelopment; a balancing act which has almost always been heavily tilted by national ideologies of pragmatism and economic rationalism?Surveying the standards and best practices of HIA as it is practiced around the world before focusing on the Hong Kong HIA model as one which Singapore can emulate, this PAE advocates the implementation of a mandatory HIA regime in Singapore, detailing recommendations for a comprehensive HIA.


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