The oldest golf course in Hong Kong, which is the focus of a contentious reconstruction proposal, won an award at the Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2023.
However, the course’s management has stated that it won’t be used as leverage to keep the facility intact.
The worldwide organisation declared on December 21 that the Fanling course, along with two other projects, had received the Award of Distinction: Dongguan Garden Residences in Yangzhou, China’s mainland, and Karnikara Mandapam at Kunnamangalam Bhagawati Temple in Kerala, India.
“The multidisciplinary effort of the Fanling golf course project has strengthened the socio-ecological commitment and ‘people-nature-culture’ relationship of Greater China’s oldest championship golf course,” the heritage body said.
“[The project establishes] a welcome precedent for conserving a unique typology of landscape heritage, one located amid increasingly urbanised surroundings and subject to larger developmental pressures.”
The club received recognition for producing “a narrative and a range of activities for a wide public,” according to Unesco.
This year, 48 project submissions from eight Asia-Pacific areas were evaluated by the jury, which is made up of seven worldwide conservation specialists under the direction of a chair.
According to Unesco, judges chose 12 winners based on their comprehension of place, technical prowess, sustainability, and impact.
Unesco adds: “The Fanling golf course project thus represents a major advancement in the promotion of an inclusive conservation management approach for cultural landscapes in both Hong Kong and the larger region.”
On the 9.5 hectares of newly reclaimed ground, the government intends to construct thousands of public housing units.
Authorities reclaimed 32 hectares of property from the 172-hectare course that was leased to the Hong Kong Golf Club in September as part of a contentious redevelopment plan that centres around this location.
On 9.5 hectares of the reclaimed ground, the government intends to construct thousands of public housing units; the remaining area will be used for recreational and conservation purposes.
Of the 32-hectare tract, seven hectares on what is called the Old Course have been made public since September. The club is also entitled to utilise the facility for tournament purposes.
The club, whose members are mostly the wealthiest citizens of Hong Kong, had previously applied for the Unesco prize in an effort to save the Old Course portion from being turned into a housing development.
The action was taken after it filed a request for judicial review of the plan in July, claiming errors in the development’s environmental impact assessment study.
The award was “definitely not a bargaining chip,” according to club captain Andy Kwok Wing-Leung, to get the government to scrap the redevelopment plan.
“We will persist in our efforts to collaborate with the government to ensure that this precious land receives the most appropriate arrangements possible,” he said.
Kwok declined to comment when asked whether the award would be submitted as a supporting document to the judicial review.
“This award further validates Hong Kong as a multicultural city and a leading international metropolis in the preservation of cultural heritage.”