On 7 February 2011, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report.
a) Management plan development
The State Party submitted an outline of the draft Istanbul Management Plan prepared by three universities and a private consultant (an architect's firm). At this stage it appears that this draft does not yet reflect the complexity of the urban property, or set out a management system that might bring together all the key stakeholders to agree upon appropriate constraints and mechanisms to ensure that the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is sustained. Furthermore, the draft plan does not relate the management of the property to the fact that some 40% of the overall historic peninsula had been declared as urban renewal zones, including nearly all the shores of the historic peninsula that reflect the essential links between the inscribed property and its maritime development.There appears to be limited guidance in the draft on how to deal with the impact of major transport and infrastructure works on the historic fabric, the historic peninsula and its setting. The urban conservation of the neighbourhoods of Suleymaniye, Zeyrek and others in Fatih does not seem to have been fully considered in relation to major proposed 'regeneration' schemes: clear policies for the neighbourhoods – the last surviving examples of urban quarters from the Ottoman period – have not been included. There is also an absence of tourism policies for the historic peninsula, of policies related to maintaining the integrity of the property, and of policies for protecting key views and silhouettes.
However, on 17 March 2011 the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre that further progress had been made on the finalisation of the management plan. The State Party submitted a more detailed copy of the first draft in Turkish on 15 April 2011. They also clarified that the management plan will be applicable to the whole Historic Peninsula, in compliance with Turkish legislation which stipulates its status as a conservation site. On 22 April 2011, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre that the text of the management plan had been modified according to the comments of the “Consultative Board”. And on 5 May 2011, the State Party reported that this ‘final’ draft had been further discussed by the Istanbul Site Management Authority. On 16 May 2011, shortly before the finalization of this document, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre the new version of the draft management plan, dated April 2011, in Turkish. The Coordination and Monitoring Board will further study the revised draft and it is anticipated that approval will follow shortly.
The Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) report for the Golden Horn Metro Bridge commissioned by the Turkish authorities (see (h) below) commented on numerous communication deficiencies in the management structure, both with the World Heritage Centre and between the authorities themselves. It also points out that existing protection areas beyond the inscribed property related to its visual integrity are not integrated into the management plan, while other parts of the setting such as Kasimpasa and Uskadar are neither integrated into the plan, nor protected. It stresses the need for the historic peninsula to be protected as part of its wider landscape, as the urban areas of Eyup, Beyoglu/Galata and Uskudur (Asian peninsula) and the Princess islands in the Sea of Marmara, contribute to its overall value and “should be incorporated into the property management system as quickly as possible”. This is to ensure that future development measures are compatible with the OUV.
b) Ottoman Houses Rehabilitation Strategy / Programme
The State Party reports on a number of ongoing restoration projects in Suleymaniye and Zeyrek districts. The implementation of a “Repair of Timber Houses Program”, which aims to sponsor and provide technical assistance to buildings owners, is mentioned in the State Party report, but no further information is provided.
c) Urban Renewal Projects and Impact Assessments
A letter of the Director-General of Cultural Heritage and Museums requesting to avoid any major projects that might impact on the OUV of the World Heritage properties and would need to be notified to the World Heritage Centre in line with Paragraph 172 of Operational Guidelines, has been sent to all authorities involved with World Heritage or Tentative List sites. On Urban Renewal projects, the State Party confirms that cultural values and spatial characteristics of the concerned areas are taken into account.
d) Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value
The State Party also submitted a draft retrospective Statement of OUV. This will be examined by the World Heritage Committee under Item 8 of the Agenda (Document WHC-11/35.COM/8E).
e) Traffic Plan
No specific information has been provided. However the Visual Impact study for the Golden Horn metro bridge (see (h) below) comments on the existing transport strategy and on the fact that traffic studies show that the current network planning will not suffice to meet future requirements.
f) Marmaray Rail tube Tunnel Project
The State Party did not submit new information on this project, e.g. on the impact of stations on the historic landscape.
g) Bosphorus Transition Tunnel Project for Motor Vehicles
The State Party states that the project was approved in principle in October 2010, and enclosed an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Eurasia Tunnel Project.
The impact assessment study does not include a specific assessment of the impact on the attributes of the OUV of the property. It does however conclude that “the project is close to the UNESCO listed historic peninsula of Istanbul. The potential exists for the project to have both direct and indirect impacts on this internationally important cultural site during construction and operation of the project”. It points out that design changes have been made so that “no structure exceeds approximately 6 m above existing ground-level and all are below the line of the old sea walls and the city beyond them so that no structure intrudes into the view of the old city. Key design revisions include reducing the height of the Operations Building to a single storey structure and the removal of signage on the toll plaza”. It further states that contact with the World Heritage Centre should be maintained during the construction period. According to the State Party, this project will reduce the volume of traffic within the historic peninsula, although a few roads will have a small increase in traffic.
h) Golden Horn Metro Bridge Heritage Impact Assessment
The State Party has submitted a VIA report of the Golden Horn Metro Bridge, commissioned from a group of independent experts from Aachen University in consultation with an international steering committee. The State Party has also submitted a separate report by another international expert team, entitled Historical and Visual Impact Assessment (HVIA). This study is part of a research doctorate at Nuova Gorica University and the IUAV University in Venice. Both studies were commissioned by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul.
The authors of the VIA report acknowledge that the study was unusual in being carried out after tenders had been agreed for the bridge, construction work had started on the pylons and the metro lines were already in place at either end.
The VIA report considered the potential impact on the OUV of the property of a cable stay Metro Bridge supported by two 65 m pylons and with a metro station near the centre. The impact analysis is said to have been undertaken in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage cultural properties and based on the OUV. The 2010 draft retrospective Statement of OUV was apparently not used. The VIA confirms the very large scale of the proposed bridge and the sensitivity of its proposed location across the Golden Horn. Various images included in the VIA show the potential impact of the bridge on the OUV of the property. It is concluded that from some views the pylons compete with the Suleimaniye Mosque minaret on the skyline, and that the deck of the bridge adds a new element to the city’s silhouette that ‘has to be classified as a grave impact on the city skyline’. Furthermore, the deck of the bridge is above the height of other bridges and its presence ‘changes the historic urban landscape significantly’, and has a ‘severe impact on the sensitive shoreline’. It was also pointed out in a preliminary text that the proposed bridge would gravely alter visual relationships from high points in the historic peninsula and Beyoglu/Galata and alter significantly the overall impression of the historic landscape. Overall, it stated that the bridge structure would impair the cityscape across the entire heartland of the Golden Horn and would have severe negative effects on the OUV of the property.
In order to mitigate this impact, the VIA experts, in collaboration with the Steering Committee, convened a workshop to consider modifications to the bridge with advice from structural engineers. A discussion of revisions was undertaken within extreme constraints - the already existing foundations for the pylons, the need to minimise the number of supports to reduce costs, the need to optimise the flow of water and use the completed metro lines at either end. The possible modifications were therefore limited to adjustments of the height of the pylons, down to 48 m, to slight reduction of the width of the pylons, to changes to the glass structure of the metro station to make it lighter, and to modifications of the viaduct arrangements at either end.
A further VIA was then undertaken on the revised designs. It suggested a reduced impairment of the view from some high and low level points, although at lower level there will still be significant adverse change and the proposed viaducts will lead to considerable disturbance of the urban fabric. Furthermore noise pollution could be severe. However, this issue could not be addressed due to lack of time.
Further, the VIA recommended that the link between the Historic Peninsula and the water, which has had a decisive role in the development of Istanbul, should be reflected in the Statement of OUV, and that the waterfront zones proposed as “urban renewal zones” in the draft management plan should be considered extremely carefully.
Overall the experts carrying out the VIA considered that the recommendations for the modifications of the bridge were no more than initial steps, and that further development of this project should be guided by some kind of Expert Panel tasked to also consider the wider development and management of the Historic Peninsula and particularly further infrastructural projects.
The proposed bridge had been approved in 2005, but was first considered by the Committee in 2006, when it requested an impact study in conformity with international standards. In spite of many repeated requests for impact studies to consider also alternatives to a cable-stay bridge, the independent impact study was not carried out until 2010, by which time all necessary permissions were in place and construction had started. The work has been put on hold in August 2010, in line with the recommendations of the 34th session of the Committee.
The second report entitled Historical and Visual Impact Assessment suggests a series of indicators for understanding projects and their context, such as visual, functional, significances, etc. On the basis of these it suggests ways of achieving a preliminary impact assessment for the Golden Horn Bridge, based on ICOMOS Guidance.
It suggests that any analysis must start with an assessment of the current state of buildings, monuments, infrastructures, etc., aimed at defining the visual, historical, functional, symbolic, perceptive elements, but that currently the information needs to be gathered from maps and other sources, as much of this data is not available in the absence of the management plan. The analysis then needs to identify views with meaning and the various options interrogated for their impact.
On 15 April 2011, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre that the Turkish authorities have made modifications to the design of the bridge in accordance with the conclusions of the two impact assessment studies. They stated that the cable stay structure will be lowered to 47 m, two thirds of the metro station structure has been cancelled, the diameter of the bridge pylons have been reduced to 8,5 m, the curved suspension cables reduced to 17 cm and that transparent sound prevention panels and landscape projects have been added (although no details of these have been provided).
i) Awareness raising
The State Party further informed the World Heritage Centre on 26 April 2011 about the Turkish translation of the ICOMOS Guidance on heritage impact assessments for Cultural World Heritage properties, for dissemination in a circular letter among the relevant authorities to guide the process of future project evaluation. In addition, the World Heritage Centre has been informed of a non-profit campaign entitled “We should not ignore it!” by a major private media group aimed at raising awareness and engaging citizens and local communities in the protection of cultural heritage in Turkey.