Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1987
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/426/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/426/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
November 2006: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2011: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2017: joint ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/426/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
On 28 November 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report. A joint ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property from 21 to 23 February 2017. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/426/documents
The State Party reported on:
The State Party confirmed its commitment to notifying the Committee of proposals that may affect the property and its wider setting, but has noted that the Committee’s timeline is incompatible with the United Kingdom statutory timeframe for planning decisions. Once a local planning authority has made a planning decision, it is not possible for the State Party to challenge it, unless the Secretary of State has called it in.
The report of the Reactive Monitoring mission identifies general issues about the consent processes within the property and its setting; urban planning issues; the cumulative impacts of development projects, particularly tall buildings; management mechanisms including the role of Historic England; the conservation and renewal work at Westminster Palace and at Westminster Abbey. The report also includes recommendations regarding the property and the potential benefits of creating links and consistent approaches between the four World Heritage properties in London, and in the United Kingdom more generally.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The State Party has not intervened with regard to major projects such as One Nine Elms Lane and Elizabeth House, as requested previously by the Committee. The Reactive Monitoring mission confirmed that these and other proposed developments have the potential to create an adverse effect on important views to and from the property, thereby negatively impacting on OUV.
Although the Greater London Authority (GLA) and borough authorities continue to develop planning guidance documents to improve procedures linked to the protection of the attributes of OUV, these policies have not had a significant impact on the approval and construction of buildings “on the ground”. Use of tools such dynamic 3D modelling should be utilized as much as possible to ensure that new proposals do not have a negative impact on OUV, by themselves, or also cumulatively with other proposals. Developments are being approved against the advice of Heritage England, whose guidance needs to be given stronger weight in determining when to call in an application, so that the State Party may meet its obligations under the World Heritage Convention more effectively.
It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to develop consistency between its obligations, and those of the local government authorities, in addressing appropriate planning mechanisms integrating the protection of OUV. Furthermore, planning policies should be reconsidered to ensure that the notion of balancing protection of OUV and other benefits of development projects be more strongly weighted towards the requirement to protect OUV. There is a need to link the strategic city development vision with heritage-led regulatory planning documents to provide clear legal guidelines for consistent management of all World Heritage properties in London.
Regarding the Palace of Westminster, major restoration and renewal works are being planned for the building and its services. As some of this work may include demolitions, additions, or changes to existing building fabric, the Committee should invite the State Party to submit details for these projects to the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies for advice.
Regarding Westminster Abbey and the new museum space planned for the Triforium, work has already begun on this adaptive reuse project, including the construction of an access tower on the exterior of the abbey. While judged not to have a negative impact on OUV, it would have been preferable for information on this major work to have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre during planning stages. It is recommended that the Committee ask for full documentation of the work being carried out to be sent to the World Heritage Centre and may also wish to ask the State Party to ensure that any future major restoration or adaptive reuse projects be submitted as per Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to implement all 23 recommendations of the Reactive Monitoring mission report.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.55
The World Heritage Committee,