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Id 184
Author Yung, E., H. K.; Zhang, Q., ; Chan, E., H.
Title Underlying social factors for evaluating heritage conservation in urban renewal districts

Yung, E. H. K., Zhang, Q., & Chan, E. H. (2017). Underlying social factors for evaluating heritage conservation in urban renewal districts. Habitat International, 66, 135-148.

Keywords Social factors; Evaluation; Heritage conservation; Urban renewal; Hong Kong
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Abstract Urban renewal usually involves large scale demolition of areas, which can lead to the destruction of social networks and local character. It has been increasingly recognized that heritage conservation in older districts undergoing urban renewal has a significant impact on enhancing a community's sense of place, identity and development. However, a clear understanding of the social factors which contribute to successful heritage conservation in urban renewal is still lacking. This study aims to identify the social role of heritage conservation in urban renewal. It also investigates whether certain underlying social factors vary among different districts, according to density, socio-demographics and the extent of redevelopment. In order to expose the factors, a survey of three hundred and twelve people in two urban renewal districts in Hong Kong was conducted using questionnaires. The identified social factors provide an evaluation framework for examining the collective impact of conservation of historic buildings, rather than individual historic buildings on a renewal district. The findings reveal that socio-demographics of an area, local characteristics, type of heritage buildings and the extent of urban renewal do not exert a significant influence on the composition of social factors. Several policy recommendations are also provided for urban planners and decision makers incorporating heritage conservation in urban renewal strategies.

Metodology A preliminary list of social considerations to be taken into account when conserving heritage buildings during the process of urban renewal were shortlisted through an intensive international and local literature review. The list of social factors was used to develop the questionnaire survey. The social considerations included five major aspects. From these five major areas, a total of 55 factors were discussed and evaluated by the research team during several rounds of brainstorming. Ten pilot surveys were then conducted with a panel of experts and laymen, respectively, to ascertain whether the variables were clear, reasonable and valid for the context of Hong Kong. Following the pilot surveys, those factors which were disagreed on by more than 50% of the experts were deleted and, finally, 51 factors were included in the final questionnaire.A survey of 312 people in two urban renewal districts in Hong Kong (Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po) was conducted using questionnaires. The results of the questionnaires were analysed through statistical analysis and extraction of variables was carried out.

Findings The results of questionnaires show that, on average, the respondents were reasonably familiar with the heritage buildings in the district. The analysis of questionnaires responses identified that the underlying factors in the Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po are quite similar. Despite the different sociodemographics and the number and size of urban redevelopment projects undergone in the two districts, there are eight factors which Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po have in common which include ‘enhance social interaction and social network’, ‘collective memory and cultural identity’,’ public involvement opportunities', ‘accessibility of the heritage building’, ‘enhance cultural diversity’, ‘enhance sense of community’, ’promote public awareness on local heritage and preserve traditional industries', ‘avoid forced eviction and gentrification’. Also, findings reveal that generally the sociodemographics of an area, the local characteristics, the type of heritage buildings and the extent of urban renewal do not exert a substantial influence on the composition of underlying social factors to be considered. Therefore, additional social factors have been added to evaluate the social impact of heritage conservation projects in the two studied districts based on their special local context. In summary, eight common underlying social factors should be considered for better planning of heritage conservation in urban renewal. These underlying factors are interrelated and can affect each other. To begin with, it is important to provide public involvement opportunities during the heritage conservation and urban renewal process. In addition, better accessibility to heritage buildings could elicit better public participation. Moreover, as part of the urban renewal strategy, promoting public awareness of local heritage and the preservation of traditional industries is essential for achieving more successful heritage conservation. Forced evictions and gentrification must be avoided in order to encourage the continuation of people's lifestyles and traditional businesses. As well, a heritage conservation project is considered to be socially beneficial if it can enhance social interactions and social networks in the community and is associated with collective memory, which helps to create a stronger cultural identity and sense of community. At the same time, a heritage conservation project should also enhance cultural diversity and engender creativity. Finally, authors propose policy recommendations. First, develop a mechanism to facilitate evaluation of the identified factors by professionals and policy decision makers, as well as the public. Adequate and effective participation mechanisms should be incorporated throughout different stages of the conservation process (Yung & Chan, 2011). Second, ensure accessibility of heritage buildings by charging affordable fees, ease of access and informing the public about the buildings’ histories and relevance. The general public can access a buildings easily if there are fewer restrictions and barriers. Third, promote public awareness of local heritage and traditional industries through better public education, such as organizing guided tours, workshops and exhibitions to showcase the histories of the heritage buildings and traditional businesses in the districts. Fourth, avoiding the forced eviction of inhabitants and local business can be achieved if the government forms policies to encourage the original habitants to stay in the historic buildings after revitalization. In addition, rent control, incentives and subsidies for the original inhabitants and local businesses could be provided in order to prevent escalating rents and gentrification and loss of local character.
Open Access NO
DOI DOI: 10.1016/j.habitatint.2017.06.004
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