1.         Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape (Austria,Hungary) (C 772rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2001

Criteria  (v)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/772/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/772/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

World Heritage Centre-ICOMOS-IUCN mission, February 2007

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/772/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

Early in 2007 the Austrian authorities informed the World Heritage Centre of their intention to authorise a new hotel project, which could affect the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property of Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape. As a result a joint expert mission was invited by the Austrian authorities, which took place from 25 to 26 February 2007 and also met with representatives from the Hungarian authorities.

During the mission it became clear that consultations were taking place at a very late stage, as the project already had permissions and was about to proceed.

The planned hotel of 73 metres was to be located on a ridge 3.8 km from the core zone and 1.9 km from the buffer zone of the World Heritage property. The project site is located within a development zone on the outskirts of Parndorf. The location of the proposed hotel and its height meant that it would rise above the skyline of the low hills surrounding the World Heritage site. Currently the only other intrusions into the skyline are a 1950s grain silo and wind turbines, both in place at the time of inscription, and both set further back from the boundary of the site than the proposed hotel.

In the development zone high-rise building constructions are allowed. The only exception applies where there are agreed zones of constraint – for instance certain areas have been excluded to the north for their nature conservation interest, as part of bird migration routes. No areas have been excluded for cultural reasons.

The proposed hotel is the first high-rise structure in the development zone. The height was justified as being in line with the existing grain silo and wind-farms.

As part of the development of the project, the architect had carried out an environmental impact assessment of the scheme, at the request of the environmental office of the state of Burgenland. The assessment concluded that the project conformed to existing laws including those regulating nature and landscape protection. The visual impact on the World Heritage site was acknowledged in the report but not considered as sufficiently significant to justify a refusal of the building permit.

When the site was inscribed the States Parties were asked to prepare a joint Management Plan within two years. The resulting plan was assessed by ICOMOS and approved by the World Heritage Committee in 2004. The plan mentions the Regional Master Plan for Northern Burgenland, 2002, in which the setting and height of wind turbines is controlled within the setting of the property. It also mentions the Regional Landscape Policy Plan of 1994 which deals with the appearance of the landscape in general – not just in the World Heritage cultural landscape.

It is stated in the plan that there will be no intrusion into the landscape by power lines or other technical infrastructure. At the time this was written, high rise buildings were not seen as a threat – but the plan does address the need to protect the landscape from vertical structures that could impact on its setting. No mention was made in the plan of the Parndorf development zone.

The mission was in no doubt that the proposed hotel would be visible from the World Heritage site and would have an adverse impact on the skyline. The mission considered that in the open and comparatively flat landscape surrounding the Neusiedler See, tall buildings could have a major impact on the sense of enclosure of the valley.

Following detailed discussion between the mission members, the Regional authorities, the developer and the architect, compromise proposals were put forward by the architect to reduce the height of the building. The developer and the architect both stressed that, as a legal building permit was already in place, the offer was entirely voluntary. According to the new proposals the hotel would be reduced to 47.2 m. The reduction in overall height would be compensated for by two shorter blocks either side. There would be no illuminated advertisement on top or illuminated corners, and the building would be painted in subdued colours.

The mission welcomed this compromise. Although the hotel would still be visible and should not even at this lower height set a precedent for future development, the mission considered that the proposals would significantly reduce the overall impact, particularly through changing the profile from a single tower to a shorter structure with two flanking wings, which when viewed from a distance would fit more harmoniously into the landscape.

If the proposed hotel is not to set a precedent for future tall buildings in the development zone, the mission considered that zoning controls needed to be in place. Following an offer by the Regional Governor and discussion with representatives of the Regional Government, it was agreed that zoning regulation would be put in place to protect the setting of the World Heritage site. Such regulation would be put in place in both Austria and Hungary. The mission also noted that a potentially intrusive project outside the buffer zone in Sopron (Hungary) was modified to avoid visual impacts. The mission considered that any regulation needed to be based on a cultural, environmental and visual assessment of the setting of the site. Furthermore the mission considered that the Management Plan needed to be supplemented by strategies on new development. In summary the following was agreed:

a) Reduction in height of hotel

The hotel will be re-designed to a maximum height of 47.20 metres (excluding the water tower). It will not include illuminated advertisement signs, or illuminated corners, and will be in a subdued colour;

b) New zoning regulations for the entire setting of the World Heritage property

In order to prevent further high-rise developments which could impact on the property, new zoning regulation will be introduced to protect the setting of the site from adverse development. Such regulations will be based on an appraisal of the visual and cultural qualities of the setting;

c) Supplementary Management Plan policies

In order to ensure that the Management Plan is fully integrated into wider land-use policies, it was agreed that supplementary strategies should be introduced on development and the protection of vernacular buildings;

d) Planning Seminar

The Austrian State Party offered to host a Seminar on management and protection for stakeholders within the next two months in order to enhance the understanding of the setting of the site and to strengthen the implementation of the Management Plan.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.107

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2. Notes the results of the Feburary 2007 mission to the World Heritage property, and in particular the positive outcome with a compromise to lower the height of the proposed hotel project near Parndorf from 73m to 47.2m;

3. Also notes that even at this lower height the hotel should not set a precedent for future development;

4. Welcomes the proposed introduction of new zoning regulations to protect the setting of the World Heritage property from adverse development and further notes that such regulations will be based on an appraisal of the visual and cultural qualities of the property’s setting;

5. Also welcomes the organisation of a seminar on management and protection for stakeholders;

6. Requests the States Parties to provide the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, with a state of conservation report on the property and progress achieved in the implementation of zoning regulations and the introduction of supplementary strategies for the development and protection of vernacular buildings in the Management Plan, for examination by the Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.