Beijing officials will invest 120 million yuan (HK$113.2 million) over the next five years to protect the historical area around the Forbidden City. The announcement came as the city government hit back at critics of its preservation efforts. The five-year push will focus on the north-south axis from Yongdingmen to the Bell Tower, and will include the resurrection of a 1,200-metre section of a sunken 700-year-old creek known as Jade River. Money will be poured into the restoration of Tucheng Bridge, including the resettlement of houseboats and work units in the area, as well as a temple and a theatre in Nanchizi, a quadrant between the Forbidden City and the Wangfujing shopping area. City planning officials yesterday put maps of 30 preservation areas on public display. The plans included height restrictions on buildings, street widths and the locations of the 2,500 houses that have been earmarked for preservation. City relics bureau deputy director Kong Fansi said that 330 million yuan had been spent over the past three years on 110 preservation projects. They included the restoration and rebuilding of 800 metres of a Ming dynasty city wall south of Beijing Railway Station and repairs to several temples and historical homes. Planning commission deputy chairman Wei Chenglin defended the city's decision to demolish some buildings within protected zones, such as Nanchizi. He said it had been carried out either because it was easier to recreate the buildings than restore the remains or because living conditions were substandard. He said that in some places there were as many as 10 households were crammed into 300 square metres of space - twice the norm. Another official, Wang Shiren, said that some of the older homes were in streets that were too narrow to be reached by ambulances. Other apartments shared bathrooms that were as far as 300 metres away. Yesterday's presentation included dramatic before-and-after photographs of the repair work carried out so far. 'Preservation is extensive and complex,' said Wang Hui, director of the city office. 'We are afraid some of you might not know the clear picture. 'We want people to know the real situation.' Sceptics fear preservation plans are kept vague to give influential city leaders and developers options to do as they wish. Meetings such as yesterday's typically follow National People's Congress meetings, said Ed Lanfranco, a newspaper columnist who writes about old Beijing. 'I think they are going to finish off old Beijing,' Mr Lanfranco said. 'It's being torn down as we speak. I have profound reservations about China's willingness to protect its legacy.'