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Committee Decisions

36 COM 8B.38

Cultural Properties - Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-12/36.COM/8B and WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B1,

2.   Inscribes the Major Mining Sites of Wallonia, Belgium, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iv);

3.   Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The Grand-Hornu, Bois-du-Luc, Bois du Cazier and Blegny-Mine sites represent the best preserved places of coal mining in Belgium, from the early 19th to the second half of the 20th centuries. The Walloon Coal Basin is one of the oldest, and most emblematic of the industrial revolution, on the European continent. The four sites include numerous technical and industrial remains, relating to both the surface and the underground coal mining industry, the industrial architecture associated with the mines, worker housing, mining town urban planning and the social and human values associated with their history, in particular the memory of the Bois du Cazier disaster (1956).

Criterion (ii): Among the earliest and largest in Europe, the four Walloon coalmines are testimony to the early dissemination of the technical, social and urban innovations of the industrial revolution. They then played a major exemplary role on the technical and social levels through to recent times. Finally, they are one of the most important sites of interculturalism arising out of mass industry through the participation of workers from other regions of Belgium, Europe and later Africa.

Criterion (iv): The ensemble of the four Walloon mining sites provides an eminent and complete example of the world of industrial mining in continental Europe, at various stages of the industrial revolution. It bears significant testimony to its industrial and technological components, its urban and architectural choices, and its social values, especially following the Bois-du-Cazier disaster (1956).

Integrity

The series’ components have been selected for the quality, diversity and wealth of the testimonies they provide. Each expresses an original and complementary dimension of the serial property’s overall value, and each has the necessary components demonstrating sufficient integrity for an intelligible expression of this overall value.

Authenticity

The authenticity of the individual components of the serial property varies somewhat depending on the component considered and depending on all the property’s sites, but it achieves a satisfactory level overall. The programmes announced for the renovation of certain components, such as the Grand-Hornu workers’ city, should favourably restore the conditions of authenticity for this property. Nonetheless, an overarching conservation plan would be welcomed to ensure the authenticity of this serial property is lastingly maintained.

Protection and management requirements

Overall, the protection measures for the sites are adequate. Guarantees have been provided for the sound management of the urban and rural buffer zones through local town planning or sector plans, implementing the general provisions of the Development Code for the environment of the listed monuments and sites.

Starting from the addition of sites with separate management and conservation systems, the serial property has recently acquired a permanent overarching body that is operating effectively: the overarching Coordination Group. The scientific capacities of this group must be strengthened and the programmes and actions coordinated to achieve a level of management and conservation compliant with that of a property with recognised Outstanding Universal Value.

4.   Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:

a)   Strengthening the scientific capacity of the overarching Coordination Group by merging the four site scientific committees or at least establishing closer cooperation between them,

b)   Strengthening the presence and the professional involvement of the Regional Heritage Department in the property’s overarching management bodies,

c)   Writing conservation management plans for each of the sites based on a common format prepared by the Coordination Group and by its associated scientific and professional bodies, and produce an overarching conservation plan,

d)   Carrying out, for the urban or industrial conversion projects in the buffer zones, landscape impact studies insofar as the property’s visual values are concerned,

e)   Confirming the financial capacity of the Grand-Hornu Foundation for the restoration of the worker city’s conditions of authenticity,

f)    Forwarding to the World Heritage Centre the deed of transfer to the Walloon Region of the long-term lease for the underground mine at the Blegny-Mine site once it has been enacted

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Belgium
Session: 36COM