Greenlight for Guia Lighthouse peripheral tall buildings retained

The government has decided to continue to allow two buildings over 50 meters in height to be built within the buffer zone of the Guia Lighthouse, despite UNESCO’s opinion on the detrimental impacts this these developments will have on the views around the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is part of a collection of structures that were collectively designated on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005.

It was announced over the weekend that the height clearance on the land plot adjacent to the east side of the Public Prosecutions Office building would be lowered from 32 meters above sea level to 28 meters.

Meanwhile, Land Plot 133, located right adjacent to the Santa Rosa de Lima Secondary School campus, will see its clearance lowered from 90 meters above sea level overall to 90 meters on the south end and 60 on the north. Land Plot 134, eastward of Land Plot 133, will be lowered from 90 meters to 60 meters.

Several local groups, such as the Concern Group for the Protection of the Guia Lighthouse and the New Macau Association, have been demanding that the government scrap the construction projects in the area in their entirety to better protect the views and the lighthouse itself.

Negotiations have started as early as in 2007 when the group first raised its concerns to UNESCO. In 2021, UNESCO issued a resolution on the matter.

Resolution WHC/21/44.COM/7B states that, “Macau shall undertake a detailed urban design and conservation planning study on Avenida Doutor Rodrigo Rodrigues, taking into account existing site conditions, legal and planning constraints, Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) requirements, and consider the possibility for a reduction in the current maximum building permit height and suspension of approval of new construction until the results of this study are formally adopted.”

The local government accordingly commissioned a team to commence such a study.

The study team highlighted that the study was aimed at “better protecting and interpreting the outstanding universal value of the lighthouse (OUV), and further highlighting the urban characteristics of Macau as a city of hills and seas.”

The team further pointed out that Land Plot 134 is situated on the northern tip of the main visual corridor of the city. “Its current 90-meter clearance has a stronger visual impact. After model simulation, in order to improve the urban characteristics of the city of hills and seas, the overall height is limited to 60 meters above sea level,” the team noted.

However, concerns over whether the lighthouse will be completely blocked, when viewed from the Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre in ZAPE, after the building is constructed in compliance with the new height clearances are still present, according to a report by local media All About Macau.

When questioned why the height clearances differ significantly between the three closely located land plots, the study team pointed to overall considerations of strengthening the visual connections between Outer Harbour and Guia Hill, in addition to the overall urban scenery.

Construction on the concerned land plots will be suspended until UNESCO approves the study results, according to Cultural Affairs Bureau president Leong Wai Man.

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