On 28 February 2012, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011).
a) Boundary issues
The State Party informs that since 2005 systematic work on the retrospective inventory of the property has been carried out by the authorities. A national working group has been formed in 2010 by the Committee on State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks of St. Petersburg (KGIOP), with the objective of clarifying the components of the serial property and its boundaries. The State Party also transmitted within the report the conclusions and outcomes of the International Expert Forum on boundary issues held in Saint Petersburg in May 2011 during which an international open-ended group of experts has been established. This group will inventory and clarify the boundaries of the property on the basis of the report prepared by the national working group and the “Atlas” of the World Heritage property’s components prepared by the KGIOP.
b) Legal framework
The Federal Law "On Cultural Heritage of the Peoples of Russian Federation" is applicable to certain individual structures within the property.
The Master Plan of St. Petersburg, approved in 2005, adopted areas of protection of cultural heritage sites in accordance with the established zone mode. These include historic buildings, skyline, panoramas and views. Parameters for construction and reconstruction are regulated throughout the whole property and in the proposed buffer zone. In 2009, on the basis of the Master Plan, Land Use and Development Rules were adopted, including territorial zoning and city planning regulations which prohibit new construction in the protected areas except for the regeneration of the historical landscape.
The State Party underlined that the recognition of the property as a landmark would not be possible without amendments to the federal legislation. In this regard, since 2011, the City Government is exploring, with the State Duma, ways to enhance the legal protection for the World Heritage property.
c) Revised “Okhta Centre” project
The St. Petersburg Government by its Decree of 8 December 2010 invalidated its previously issued decision of 22 September 2009 which provided authorization for deviation from the boundary parameters of construction of "Okhta-Center". The project of the “Okhta Centre” tower construction was cancelled. The revised architectural project has not been officially submitted to any authority yet. In September 2011, the investor Joint Stock Company “Gazprom” requested the authorities to submit to the World Heritage Centre within the framework of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines a formal request of information regarding the international rules of law and procedures of the approval of a new project of the Lakhta Public and Business Center. Following a letter of the World Heritage Centre of 25 October 2011, the State Party submitted within the report an explanatory note prepared by the investor clarifying the exact situation of a new location and providing information about the new project of the Lakhta Center.
The new construction is planned in Primorskiy District of St. Petersburg, on the outskirts of the city, 6 miles away from the historic center of St. Petersburg. According to the State Party, the plot of land for the project was not classified as an area of historical and cultural significance and is located outside the zones of protection of cultural heritage and does not fall within the boundaries of the protected areas of World Heritage or their buffer zones. The Russian State Hydrometeorological University carried out a special assessment of climatic characteristics in the Primorskiy District which concluded that the cloudy weather prevailing in St. Petersburg (237 to 256 days a year) makes it difficult to observe the tall building up to its top and retains only the lower 100 - 200 meters visible.
The concept of the project includes construction of a skyscraper with a major office (the same design developed for the “Okhta Center” tower is used for the “Lakhta Center”), research and sports center, yacht club, career oriented park for children, hotel, exhibition halls, as well as shopping and entertainment facilities. The Kalinin District federal court of St. Petersburg, and later at the Municipal Court of St. Petersburg, has recognized the legitimacy of the investor’s permission because it will not affect the visual perception of the protected panoramas. In June 2011 public hearings were held in the Primorskiy District regarding the Lakhta business Center.
d) Statement of Outstanding Universal Value
A revised draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value was submitted to the World Heritage Centre, as requested by the World Heritage Committee.
e) Management of the property
The supervision over the status of the property is carried out by KGIOP and the Department for State Protection, Preservation and Use of the Cultural Heritage Properties of the Committee for Culture of the Government of Leningrad Region, within the limits of their authority. The possibility to coordinate actions of the entities of the Russian Federation is very complicated due to the fact that each of these constituent entities, in accordance with the current Russian law carries out economic activities on its territory based on its own financial plans and independent master plans for development of their territory.
f) State of conservation
The Government of St. Petersburg has established preservation of the historic centre as a priority which prevails over the concept of compromise and so-called rational balance between preservation and development. The development of a long-term programme for the conservation and restoration of the Historic Center of St. Petersburg (2012-2018) has been started in order to provide comprehensive rehabilitation of the historic environment, taking into account social interests and interests of private investors.
g) Communities involvement
The report informs that the Governor of St. Petersburg has engaged in a dialogue with the public city-protection movement, through the Committee on Protection of Landmarks. Representatives of social organizations and movements are members of the Council for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the Government of St. Petersburg.