Find out how you can apply for conservation signage clearance for your conserved building.

Conservation Permission is required before the addition or repositioning of signages on conserved buildings.

Building signs have many functions. They add interest and character to a building particularly if it is designated as part of a conservation area.

Download Signage Guidelines on Conserved Buildings

Traditional signs are an important part of the historical, architectural and visual environment in conservation areas. They often tell the history of the building and of the wider community. When well made, they can also be works of art.

Owners have to retain existing traditional signs that have acquired architectural and historical significance. For example, plaster/masonry relief signs on the outer face of columns, beams, friezes and pediments. They are part of the cultural history of the building and cannot be removed.

However, they can be covered over with a new sign panel, if necessary, without damaging the original plaster/masonry reliefs. The original building date on the facade cannot be removed, replaced or covered over.

For individual business signs, they can take the form of carved timber panels with gold-painted Chinese characters sometimes combined with English translations that are hung above doorways. Other buildings have letterings/characters formed in plaster/masonry relief as part of the main façade design. There are also those that are painted onto timber boards or metal panels. The degree of embellishment can vary. Traditional signs are not self-illuminating.

They are usually made of plastic, with characters formed in contrasting colours, and are self-illuminating. Some contemporary signs include painted metal panels and cloth banners to publicise events or promote sales. There are also signs that are made of cut-out metal characters that are mounted against the façade.

We control the location and size of business signages within conservation areas. For advertising purposes, business signs incorporating small advertisements and small independent advertisement signs can be allowed.

They are useful, interesting and attractive if they are tastefully designed, and compatible with the character of the building and streetscape.

They also have to be carefully positioned. They should be clear and easy to read from the street level and should not visually dominate the building. It is important to ensure they do not cover or block any key architectural features nor cause obstruction or danger to the public

Business signs have to comply with the requirements of the relevant technical departments in URA. Variations can be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In general, only business signs are allowed on conserved buildings. Advertisement signs are not allowed on conserved buildings unless the buildings are along a designated advertising route.

What is the difference between a ‘Business Sign’ and an ‘Advertisement Sign’?

A ‘business sign’ is one that shows:

  • the identity or a description of the place or premises;
  • the identity or a description of any person residing or carrying on an occupation at the place or premises;
  • The particulars of any business or occupation carried on at the place or premises, including any logo or symbol that identifies the business or occupation;

An ‘advertisement sign’ is one that promotes any of the following:

  • goods
  • brand of products
  • services or events

Advertisement signs also include any logo, symbol, sign, notice or representation, unrelated to the main operations of the subject building. For example, a sign that promotes a beverage while the conserved building is occupied by an office that does not carry out F&B business.

How do I apply for Conservation Permission?

You may submit your application through:

Building and Construction Authority
Advertisement Licence

Category 3 Works Application
Apply for Category 3 works for conserved buildings and site inspection of the works

Note: You will need to submit drawings showing details of the location, size and intended message of your proposed signboards.