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Hong Kong has undergone a rapid transformation from a small fishing village to one of Asia’s top commercial cities. With the booming economic development that it has undergone, heritage has been criticised as largely neglected. To respond to this criticism proactively, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government introduced a Revitalising Historic Buildings through Partnership Scheme in October 2007 which is considered as an innovative social public-private partnership (PPP) scheme. In this scheme the Government will pay all initial costs related to the renovation of these buildings for subsequent renting to service providers of social enterprises and will not expect the service providers to shoulder these costs. The facilities will also be rented to the service providers at a nominal or heavily subsidised cost. In return the service providers will operate their own social enterprises using their own funds. The objectives of the scheme are: 1) to preserve and put historic buildings into good and innovative use; 2) to transform historic buildings into unique cultural landmarks; 3) to promote active public participation in the conservation of historic buildings; and 4) to create job opportunities particularly at the district level. It is hoped that pumping in public expenditure to upgrade these historic buildings will in turn generate jobs, uphold conservation principles, and also subsidize the social enterprises in running their businesses which may not otherwise remain feasible without financial support. However, since the scheme’s introduction, there has been much criticism of the selecting procedures for the service providers (e.g. Concern by the Chinese Artists Association regarding the use of the North Kowloon Magistracy). How successful the scheme is in achieving the stated objectives is a question yet to be answered. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the scheme in terms of its social, economical, cultural and heritage impacts at different stages of development, namely, sustainability of economic benefits, renovation / conservation of historic buildings, and management and operation of the social enterprises. Recommendations for improvement will be made based on the findings of this study. This public policy research (PPR) project has recently been funded by the Research Grants council (RGC) of Hong Kong. This paper provides an overview of the funded research in terms of its background, aim and objectives, and the research framework. The significance and value of conducting this PPR project will also be discussed.
This document has been peer reviewed.