Greater China Legal History Seminar Series – ‘The Legal Protection of Built Heritage in Hong Kong’ by Prof. Steven Gallagher (Online)

Hong Kong is a modern vibrant city, characterised as a city of skyscrapers with little place for old buildings. However, Hong Kong has a surprisingly rich pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial built heritage. This seminar considers what “built heritage” means in Hong Kong, what built heritage there is in Hong Kong and how the law protects or fails to protect that built heritage. The seminar will consider how protection of built heritage developed in Hong Kong, how effective this protection has been under the colonial and post-colonial administrations, including successes and failures. The seminar will consider the protests that accompanied the colonial and post-colonial administrations’ attempts to remove built heritage in Hong Kong, including the battle to save the Kowloon-Canton Railway Station, the protests at continued reclamation of the most emblematic aspect of Hong Kong’s built heritage, the Victoria Harbour, and the violent protests that accompanied the removal of the Star Ferry Pier and Queen’s Pier. The seminar discusses the introduction of mandatory heritage impact assessments for government projects, sometimes described by those outside Hong Kong as the “gold standard” in built heritage protection, but more realistically appraised domestically. The seminar concludes by exploring some of the recent successes in built heritage protection in Hong Kong, including developments in public private partnerships, which may indicate a brighter future for the protection of Hong Kong’s built heritage.

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