Lord Wilson Trust could be empowered to manage key historic sites in the city Officials are considering expanding the semi-official Lord Wilson Heritage Trust to give the government a proper mechanism for conserving the city's historic buildings. But government sources said that despite the authorities' recent commitment to heritage conservation, the enlarged trust would not have the power or money to buy buildings from private owners. The government is reviewing its long-term policy on heritage conservation and setting up a trust has been high on its agenda. Officials believe a trust, as a non-government body, would have greater flexibility in dealing with heritage issues. They said it would make for more responsiveness towards public concerns over the preservation of heritage sites. '[Transforming] an existing trust is easier and faster than setting up a new one, so at least we do not have to draft a new piece of legislation,' a source said. 'But we should not expect the trust to be funded with billions of dollars to buy out all old buildings.' It was possible the trust, which was established in 1992 to fund research and heritage-related activities such as public lectures and exhibitions, would be responsible for managing one of the city's oldest tenement houses, the 75-year-old Lui Seng Chung, the historic Dragon Garden and the Yau Ma Tei Theatre, which are now, or will be, owned by the government. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department is still trying to decide on a new use for the Lui Seng Chung tenement house, which has been vacant for years. The ground floor of the building in Sham Shui Po originally housed Lui's Chinese medicine shop, while the Lui family lived on the upper floors. Their descendants lived there until the 1980s. Sources said the government preferred using the heritage site for non-commercial purposes, as the building was too small to accommodate a business. 'The house is designed for one family to live in, while the balcony is much bigger than the inside area,' a source said. 'The space is too small for any business to make a profit.' The government will ask interested parties to submit plans for how to conserve and use the building. The winner will be responsible for the building's maintenance, and officials expect they will team up with private foundations to get money for maintenance. The department has already committed the deserted Yau Ma Tei Theatre, a graded heritage building next to the historic wholesale fruit market, for a Cantonese opera house. Dragon Garden, built in 1950, was accorded Grade II status on the recommendation of the Antiquities Advisory Board last year after a three-month battle to save it from a property developer. The eight-hectare waterfront site on Castle Peak Road, built by tycoon Lee Iu-cheung, is regarded as the most beautiful private garden in Hong Kong. It has charmed architects with its mixture of Chinese architectural styles, western building technology and good fung shui settings. The Lee family plans to donate the garden to the government. Officials are planning to spend about HK$50 million on a facelift for the garden before opening it to the public.