The State Party submitted a state of conservation report of some 1,500 pages on 31 January 2012. On 10February 2012 it provided four supplementary pages. Additional information was also submitted on the outcomes of a World Heritage Coordination Meeting held on 28 January 2012, and on 19 April 2012 on the first report of the Advisory Expert Committee
a) Golden Horn Bridge
The State Party report states that in response to the request of the Committee to “consider all ways possible to mitigate the impacts of the Golden Horn metro bridge”, an Independent Advisory Expert Committee has been set up by the IstanbulMetropolitanMunicipality. It consists of four international experts, who had previously worked on the bridge, local and international senior advisors and committees of the Istanbul Natural and Cultural Sites and the Site Management Directorate. The State Party report mentions that the work undertaken by the experts will be shared periodically with the World Heritage Committee and related stakeholders during the construction of the bridge by the IstanbulMetropolitanMunicipality.
The State Party also states that the Metro Bridge Project across Golden Horn has been revised according to the ‘revisions defined in the independent expert reports prepared in 2011 and implementation works have been carried out within this scope’. The report thus makes clear that work is progressing according to the plans presented to the Committee at its last session and that no further modifications have been made. Seventeen piers are being constructed. Rescue archaeology has been undertaken on the Genoese walls and on the shore areas affected.
Representatives of the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS were invited and agreed to attend a meeting with the Advisory Expert Committee on 28 January 2012. However, they were informed on 27 January that the meeting had been postponed. On 25 April 2012, a meeting between representatives of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS, and members of the Advisory Expert Committee took place at the World Heritage Centre. It was also attended by representatives of the IstanbulMetropolitanMunicipality and the Permanent Delegation.
At this meeting, members of the Expert Advisory Committee reported that, as work on the bridge piers was on-going, and, as 85% of the structural elements of the bridge had been manufactured, no further structural changes to the bridge were possible other than those reported to the Committee at its last session (reducing the height of the pylons from 88m to 53m or 63m – to be decided in accordance with the material for the upper part of the pylons from cables to top, reducing the width of the cables from 24mm to 17mm and the length of the metro station from 180m to 90m).
They therefore considered that the only mitigation measures that could be possible were related to colour and lighting, a reduction in noise pollution and the design of the landscaping at either end. It was agreed that these could be discussed at a further meeting at the end of May 2012 in Istanbul.
The Experts also noted that the considerable height of the deck of the bridge, that brings with it the need for extremely tall piers, was dictated by the height of the metro tunnels that were fixed well in advance of discussions on the design of the bridge.
b) Urban Renewal
A report by the Commission on Housing and Urban Development of the IstanbulMunicipality on housing development that might impact the silhouette of Istanbul was approved in October 2011. Based on a “views analysis”, this calls for the development of an integrated Silhouette Master Plan for all areas of the city that might impact the silhouette. The Plan will define the silhouette and outline measures necessary to respect it. In the meantime, the Commission called for restrictive measures to be put in place to limit the height of buildings.
The main report provides extensive details on proposed work in renewal areas across the city, to a level of detail that is difficult to assess from a written report.
c) Marmaray Rail Tube Tunnel
Rescue excavations have been carried out at Aksaray and Yenikapı Metro Stations, including on Neolithic footprints, shipwrecks, mosaic floors and chapels and in all over 1,300 finds have been recorded. Necessary revision was made to the certain aspects of the project to preserve some specific items in situ.
d) Bosporus Transition Tunnel Project for Motor Vehicles
The State Party submitted, as annexes 3 and 4, the final report of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and the report on the consultation process regarding this project. These extensive reports are being reviewed by ICOMOS.
e) Management Plan
The Management Plan has been revised to take account of the Committee’s decision. The revised plan was approved in October 2011 by the World Heritage Coordination and Supervision Council and has been submitted to relevant Municipal authorities and approved by them. The Plan was also submitted to ICOMOS for review.
The State Party report informs that the Plan was prepared by a wide range of stakeholders from central and local governments, universities, non-governmental organisations and local inhabitants coming together to set out a vision for the property. The Management Plan covers wider IstanbulHistoricPeninsula as it was not deemed appropriate to consider the areas of the historic peninsula outside the four inscribed sites as a buffer zone but rather as sites of value in their own right. There is thus no differentiation made between the inscribed areas and their wider setting of the HistoricPeninsula, although the Action Plans and Projects relates to the four inscribed sites.
The Plan provides a good profile of the HistoricPeninsula combining data on recent planning issues, projects, land profile, earthquake sensitivity and so on. The revised Plan is now highly aspirational and seeks to address the key structural issues facing the HistoricPeninsula as a basis for the conservation of cultural heritage. It acknowledges current weaknesses related to understanding of the property, lack of coordinated approaches, strategies and policies, and the need to undertake capacity building. It aims to harmonise legislative, transportation, conservation, tourism and renewal approaches across the Plan area.
The authorities intend to review the Plan on an annual basis in a cooperative spirit of sharing knowledge and experience. Regarding the first Annual Review, ICOMOS has suggested that consideration be given to the following: stressing the links between the four sites that form the serial property and that they form one property not four; setting out the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value overall for the four sites; defining the links between the four sites and the zones of the Historic Peninsula in order to understand how the neighbouring zones contribute to the attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value and to the setting of the inscribed property; developing knowledge of cultural heritage more specifically on the Outstanding Universal Value and the attributes of this Value; articulating development threats; refining and coordinating management policies; refining projects to make them more achievable; amplifying the process of overlay between the Management Plan and other plans such as Conservation and Renewal Plans.
f) Conservation work
The Conservation Plan of the HistoricPeninsula was approved by the related Conservation Councils and IstanbulMetropolitanMunicipality in 2011. This is a map scale 1/5000 that identifies conservation areas and their status. The four sites of the property are first Degree Conservation Sites. Proposed work in the four areas is set out in the report. This includes conservation work, removing unlisted and illegal buildings, reducing streets to their original level, and constraints on development. The report also provides considerable detail on conservation and awareness raising activities. These include: establishing an Historic Peninsula Implementation and Research Centre by Yıldız Technical University in 2011 raising public awareness, and training communities on the values of the Historic Peninsula; conducting modular training program on stone conservation and restoration for graduates of Architectural Vocational High Schools and Vocational School of Higher Education; launching, in September 2011, a training program on “Training on Conservation of Cultural Heritage from Museums to House” with the support of the Ministry of Development and Istanbul Development Agency; and publishing a free magazine on conservation and restoration activities prepared regularly.