The Home Affairs chief has brushed aside concerns that the listing of 496 historic buildings for public inspection will tempt developers to hasten the demolition of structures in private hands. 'Any demolition plan needs to get the Buildings Department's approval,' Patrick Ho Chi-ping said. 'If anyone wants to demolish any historic buildings in the city, the government will know and intervene.' The government uploaded information about the buildings to the website of the Antiquities and Monuments Office last night in response to the continuing public outcry against the demolition of the Star Ferry pier in Central last month. Concerns were prompted because none of the buildings has legal protection from demolition since none is among the 80 declared monuments that enjoy protection. Of the 496 listed buildings, 232 are government properties, 218 are in private hands, 21 are temples and 25 belong to the Urban Renewal Authority. They include 117 grade one buildings, 185 grade two buildings and 194 grade three buildings. Grade one is the closest to becoming a monument but does not legally protect a building from destruction. The Bauhaus-style Central Market, a grade three building, is on the government's land application list. Any developer who meets the government's reserve price can trigger an auction for it. Lee Ho-yin, director of the University of Hong Kong's architectural conservation programme, was confident that recent public sentiment about protecting heritage sites meant that the 218 buildings in private hands would be safe from demolition. 'Public pressure is the best protection for these buildings,' he said. But he called on the government to improve the system by listing all 496 graded buildings as 'Buildings of Architectural Interest'. 'Many buildings in Hong Kong are functional buildings, they have not reached the status of monument but they are architecturally important,' he said. 'We can learn from Macau and Singapore to add a new protection category, specifying conservation such as the facade and permitting a limited degree of development, such as allowing new structures behind the facade but imposing height restrictions.'