No report has been submitted by the State Party. An ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 13 to 21 February 2012, at the request of the Committee at its 35th session, in order to consider the numerous constructions and re-construction projects reported in the city and review the existing management system and decision-making mechanism for the property, including legislative and regulatory framework, institutional arrangements and existing planning tools. The Committee also requested the State Party to halt “on-going projects which may have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, until these projects can be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the World Heritage Committee.”
a) Legislative and Planning Framework
The mission noted the various changes and amendments to laws at the regional and national level that had taken place over the past few years. Until 2011, only discrete buildings or groups of buildings could be protected and there was thus no protection for urban landscapes. The property is now recognized on a preliminary basis under one Federal Law as a ‘site’ and under another as an ‘historic area’. So far the categories have not been defined, but the laws do appear to allow for the components of the urban fabric to be protected, and thus offer the opportunity to protect historic urban landscapes. The mission considered that there was a need for greater clarity as to how these categories are defined and what impact the new laws will have, particularly in terms of transferring responsibility from the Ministry of Culture to the regional level. The mission further considered that if too much responsibility is transferred, there is a risk of weakening the federal role, in terms of the State being the main guarantor for the preservation of the property.
Since 2008 the property and its buffer zone have had a clear system of protective regimes for protected areas, approved by the Ministry of Culture and adopted by the Government of Yaroslav Region in 2011. However, the mission considered that these regulations were too general and do not adequately protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in terms of protecting the specifics of the urban structure, the particular scale of the urban fabric, silhouettes, panoramas, proportions between spaces, the relationship with nature, etc. Nor do studies appear to have been conducted to identify the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. The way the regulations are applied is occasionally in conflict with the protection of the traditional urban fabric. The mission also noted that there could be gaps in the protection of the Protected Areas.
The mission also noted that the current planning system does not allow an analysis of architectural projects in terms of their potential impact on Outstanding Universal Value, that the monitoring of projects is totally inadequate, and that there is a lack of a detailed urban plan for the property and its buffer zone.
In terms of the management of the property, the mission noted that this encompasses three levels: national, regional and municipal. Considerable powers are delegated to the municipal level. The mission considered that the system had a good level of functionality in terms of managing the process of planning and urbanism in a city facing difficult conditions and the dynamics of strong market pressures and conflicts of interests. However, they also noted the lack of a Site Manager. This role was said to be assumed by the Russian World Heritage Committee. However, this Committee is limited to making recommendations – although it appeared to the mission that it had exceeded its remit for certain development projects. The mission also considered that the management system lacked transparency and provided local citizens and NGOs with little opportunities for engagement.
c) Conservation of the property
The mission noted that, as preparation for celebrations of the thousandth anniversary of the city’s foundation, extensive restoration work had been carried out on churches and other religious buildings during a relatively short period (2008-2010). While the restoration work was conducted on an impressive scale, the mission considered that it lacked a systematic conservation approach, based on extensive studies and long-term plans.
d) Development and re-development projects in the property and its buffer zone
The mission noted the recent intensification of new construction, and that no Heritage Impact Assessments have been conducted prior to new developments. Furthermore, no detailed plans for any of these projects have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
According to the Municipality, since 2005, in the territory of the property and its buffer zone, 35 buildings have been constructed and ten buildings are under construction, while three construction projects remain unimplemented. However, the mission noted a sharp drop in the numbers of new constructions during the past year. The mission made the following observations on implemented projects:
- Cathedral of the Assumption
This new building is a complete reconstruction of the cathedral. The mission considered that this reconstruction is unacceptable as it is in breach of the regulations (which only allow a reconstruction within the framework of "historical documentation") and its dimensions far exceed those of the original building. The project to re-build the Cathedral is also not in compliance with paragraph 86 of the Operational Guidelines, which states that reconstruction is acceptable ‘only on the basis of complete and detailed documentation and to no extent on conjecture’. Moreover, details of the project were not provided to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before the project’s approval as requested by Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
The mission considered that the new building has a severe negative impact on the city skyline, particularly on the silhouette towards the Volga and Kotorosl. It is totally unsympathetic to the ensemble of harmonious churches that contribute to the overall panoramas of the city and the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Furthermore, the mission considered that the removal of the original archaeological foundations of the old cathedral is unacceptable, especially since they formed an archaeological monument of federal significance.
The mission considered that this project illustrates the deficiencies in legal protection and the management system. The standard parameters for construction limits were waived and 'the decision was imposed despite protests from organizations, both professional and civil. No impact assessment was carried out to assess the impact on the silhouette of the property and the Outstanding Universal Value.
The mission was also informed of a further project to rebuild the bell tower of the Cathedral. The mission considered that if this project was implemented, the damage to the silhouette of the property would be irreversible.
- Millennium Monument complex
The memorial complex is designed as an urban focus that competes with the traditional urban fabric. It breaks the visual axis to the 17th century Korovniki church on the opposite bank of the Kotorosl river. The construction of the complex is in violation of the rules of the "zone of protected natural landscape" in the buffer zone.
- Two level Bridge across the river Kotorosl
The mission considered that this bridge conflicts with the authenticity of the landscape in the buffer zone, and that the road access it provides is not justified since it directs traffic, in a threatening manner, toward the property. Subsequently, two new communication solutions have been found which reflect a positive attempt to reduce the flow of cars into the property, while showing that the bridge was unnecessary. This points to the need for a comprehensive transportation plan that does not increase the transit of cars on the property.
- The Prince Pozharsky monument, Spasso-Preobrazhensky monastery
This stele has been erected in the centre of the monastery. The mission considered it an example of impermissible interference that conflicts with the authentic environment of the monastery and should be removed. It also illustrates the deficiencies in the management system.
- Other development projects
The mission visited many areas where development and re-development was taking place and noted that the scale of new constructions was in many cases inconsistent with the characteristic of the urban fabric and with current regulations, and that non-traditional materials were being used for re-roofing.
The mission also assessed some projects that are not yet implemented and are administered on a regional level. At this point, the mission considered that debates on these projects within the Council of the Russian Committee on World Heritage were very helpful. The following projects were considered:
- Hotel project in the vicinity of the Cathedral of the Assumption and the Quai de la Volgal>
The mission noted that in principle a new building in this area is possible. In its present form, however, they considered that the project is unacceptable. The boundaries and size of building permitted by the Master Plan exceed the scale of the traditional urban fabric of the surroundings. Although the project has evolved, the absence of a detailed urban plan and adequate regulations means that an optimal solution has not been found. The mission recommends that further modifications need to be made to the height and design of the proposed building.
- Volkov cultural centrel>
This project proposes an approximate reconstruction of a demolished hotel attached to the Znamenskaya tower and Znamenié church. The mission considered that this approach, as well as the proposals to build an underground car park for 500 cars, is in contradiction with the recommendations of the Committee and the mission in 2009. The mission considered that this site should remain undeveloped.