1.         Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg (Austria) (C 784)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

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/784/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/784/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

January 2009: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; April 2013: ICOMOS advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/784/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 30 January 2013 the State Party submitted a state of conservation report in response to Decision 35 COM 7B.83. Based on a number of proposed new development projects on which the State Party provided information in 2012 and 2013, an ICOMOS Advisory Mission took place on 2-3 April 2013 to consider the recent developments on projects previously discussed by the Committee as well as new proposals, to assess their potential impact on the World Heritage property and to advise the State Party on avoiding potential negative impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The current developments follow several previous occurrences of ongoing or planned construction projects which raised the concerns of the World Heritage Committee and which highlighted weaknesses in the approval system for new constructions in the property and buffer zone. A principle challenge lies in the fact that the National Monument Protection Law recognises monuments only as individual objects and provides no legislative context for the protection of historic ensembles or urban landscapes, as would be required for the case of Salzburg. Legal protection is instead offered by a Historic City Preservation Law (Altstadterhaltungsgesetz) at municipal level, which despite its introduction of expert commissions and architectural advisory boards, is not always guided by the OUV of the property and does not provide protection at the highest national level.

a)  Hydroelectric Power Plant Lehen

In response to Decision 35 COM 7B.83, the State Party provided a revised Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), which analyses the impacts of the project on the OUV of the property. The HIA concludes that the main impact would be a minimal rise in water level in the river Salzach, which seems to correspond to its historic water level and is accordingly considered a negligible change of minor beneficial impact.

b)  Residential Buildings City Life Rehrlplatz

The residential project at Rehrlplatz is situated in an ensemble of 19th century villas along the river banks of Salzach River in the World Heritage property. The selected design, result of an international competition, features four to six storey buildings in innovative cubic design structures with large, often irregular window openings and terraces. The expert commission for the preservation of the historic city has surprisingly approved the project, while the Federal Office for the Protection of Monuments and the ICOMOS Advisory Mission have come to the conclusion that its character is incompatible with the World Heritage city of Salzburg. Likewise, resident initiatives have collected more than 25,000 signatures against this project, which they think threatens the OUV of the property.

Despite not being covered by national legislation, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that the selected design is not in line with the stipulations of the Historic City Preservation Law (Altstadterhaltungsgesetz), which was referenced as a basis for legal protection for the World Heritage property and that the project has the potential to negatively affect the OUV of the property. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS recommend to redesign the project in light of this legislation, in particular by reducing its height and modifying its design to ensure a harmonious integration in the spatial proportions of the surrounding 19th century villas.

c)  Project Schwarzstrasse 45 / Ernest-Thunstr. 2

This project is situated in the buffer zone of the World Heritage property and proposes to demolish the existing four-storey building at Schwarzstrasse 45 to be replaced by a pentagonal and hexagonal conical building with up to seven storeys. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that the proposed seven storeys surpass the average building heights in the area and have the potential to disturb the setting of the World Heritage Site. They recommend that the project is modified in its present proportions and that a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) in light of the visual and physical impacts on the setting of the World Heritage property is presented for the revised design proposal.

d)  High-rise structure Nelböck Viaduct Rainerstrasse/Bahnhofsvorplatz

The proposed high rise structure of 58 meters is suggested to be constructed on a property which according to the valid development plan (from 2007) foresees permission of structures up to 42 meters height. The higher structure was designed to constitute a new architectural highlight next to the central station. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that Salzburg is characterized by a number of architectural highlights of OUV, steeples and domes of churches as well as the fortification Hohensalzburg and the mountain setting at a distance. It is recommended to abandon proposals aiming at creating architectural highlights in favour of structures that harmoniously blend with the setting of the World Heritage property.

e)  Other projects

The State Party provided notification on additional developments at Priesterhausgarten, the replacement of a 1950 structure at Paracelsusbad, the enlargement of a garage at Mönchsberg and 33 additional so-called small scale projects. Among the positive aspects reported upon is that the group of high-rises in Itzling (“Utzilinga”) previously discussed and addressed in the 2009 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission report, has been abandoned and will continue only within the dimensions of the already existing high-rises in the area near the station, fully taking the view axes of the World Heritage property into account.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS acknowledge the appointment of a site manager for Salzburg as a positive step, but also consider that the number of projects under discussion illustrates the need for a strengthened and revised management system which integrates regular procedures for HIAs, according to the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for World Heritage cultural properties. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS further recommend to, within the on-going revision of the Management Plan, explore possibilities for the creation of legal mechanisms that allow for the protection of monuments in their wider setting. 

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

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS recommend that the Committee request the State Party to reconsider the designs and proportions of the development projects Residential Buildings City Life Rehrlplatz, Schwarzstrasse 45 / Ernest-Thunstr.2, and Nelböck Viaduct Rainerstrasse/Bahnhofsvorplatz. It is further recommended to integrate a regular mechanism for the preparation of HIA for all development projects within the property and its buffer zone in the management system. Of particular importance is a general revision of the legislative and planning mechanisms, which have facilitated the approval of inappropriate development projects impacting on the OUV of the property. Such revision should primarily be focused on the Austrian Monument Protection Law, which requires additional monument categories to gain capacity for the recognition and protection of historic city ensembles and historic urban landscapes. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS are of the view that a short-term provision to integrate the Federal Office for the Protection of Monuments in any approval procedure could be stipulated in the revised management plan but that a medium-term revision of the Austrian Monument Protection Law should remain an important goal for the protection of World Heritage cities in Austria.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.72

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.83 , adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.  Notes the results of the April 2013 ICOMOS advisory mission to the property, invited by the State Party;

4.  Takes note of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the hydroelectric power plant Lehne and information provided by the State Party concerning a number of proposed new projects which may constitute negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);

5.  Encourages the State Party to continue to provide to the World Heritage Centre any development proposals before their official approval in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines for review by the Advisory Bodies;

6.  Requests the State Party to initiate the modification of the project designs and proportions of the Residential Buildings City Life Rehrlplatz, the project at Schwarzstrasse 45 / Ernest-Thunstr. 2 and the Nelböck Viaduct Rainerstrasse / Bahnhofsvorplatz and to carefully consider all other developments proposed on the basis of HIAs, in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage cultural properties, before any building permission is granted;

7.  Reiterates its request to revise the draft Management Plan and to fully implement the recommendations of the 2009 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission;

8.  Expresses its concern about the apparent lack of adequate, legislative and planning mechanisms to protect the property from the various proposed, often aggressive, urban and infrastructure developments as well as a lack of an officially approved management system, which regulates compulsory participation of all concerned agencies in the review of these proposals;

9.  Also requests the State Party to integrate standard requirements for HIA in urban planning and development approval policies, and to strengthen legal mechanisms for the protection of monuments in their setting, especially through an expansion of the Austrian Monument Protection Law;

10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015 , a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.