The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 1 February 2011. The report addresses three key issues, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session:
a) Progress made in implementing the management plan/system
The State Party report explains that a comprehensive development plan (“Development Plan of Tallinn Old Town” for 2008-2013) had been prepared instead of a comprehensive management plan, as the Estonian judicial system does not recognize management plans, and that there had been no clear understanding of the requirements of a management plan. Following review of the Development Plan by the World Heritage Committee in 2009, the State Party notes that theexisting development framework will be refocused to become a document based on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property. The structure and timetable for the preparation of this management plan was included as an annex to the State Party report, which envisages its approval by December 2011.
In addition, the State Party considers that the current management system for the property is adequate, and has become an example for heritage protection in other Estonian cities.
b) Results of the technical advisory mission
The State Party report addresses the key recommendations of the January 2010 ICOMOS technical advisory mission. A Management Committee for the Tallinn World Heritage property was established on 8 September 2010. It includes representatives of the state, the municipality of Tallinn, the Union of Estonian Architects, the Estonian National Commission for UNESCO, etc. Its purpose is to provide an open forum for the preservation and development of the property and to monitor the preparation of the management plan.
· A Nordic-Baltic workshop for preparation of draft retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value (SOUV) resulted in a draft SOUV for Tallinn Old Town, to provide the basis for the management plan. The draft SOUV was submitted by the State Party to the World Heritage Centre together with the state of conservation report.
· Concerning the Thematic Plan, “The Location of High-Rise Buildings in Tallinn”, the mission considered that it was not entirely in conformity with the protection of the setting of the World Heritage property. The already completed high-rise buildings in the Maakri district, just outside of the buffer zone, were considered by the mission to impact adversely on the views to/from the Old Tallinn. The mission also considered that the construction of any of the approved 130-metre high-rises in the area could impact adversely on the visual integrity of the property.
· However, the State Party report states that the Thematic Plan ensures that no high-rise buildings will be built within the property or in the buffer zone, and that the silhouette of the Old Town will dominate from the sea and from fixed key viewpoints within the town. The report further notes that the Maakri district, in a wider setting (designated in the late 90s as the new Tallinn City and for high-rise developments and where high-rise buildings have been built) is far enough from the Old Town, in order for its structures not to have a negative impact on the silhouette of the Old Town.
A number of the conclusions of the mission are not addressed by the State Party report. These include:
· The resolution concerning treatment of vacant plots in Old Tallinn, agreed at the 2002 Tallinn international conference on “Alternatives to Historical Reconstruction in UNESCO World Heritage Cities”. The elements of that resolution concerning the principles to be observed in managing archaeological remains, new constructions and the designing of detailed plans within the area are still relevant today and should be included in the comprehensive management plan.
· The work on the preservation of the urban historic wooden areas within the buffer zone, including implementation of the approved environmental (milieu) plans, should be supported.
b) Work in progress
The State Party report notes that the Heritage Conservation Act is currently under revision to ensure involvement of qualified and licensed professionals not just for work on national monuments but for all structures within the World Heritage property, and that a full time archaeologist is now working within the Cultural Heritage Department, to assist in archaeological investigation and in monitoring repair work in the Old Town.
Finally, the State Party lists major restoration works underway including several towers and other elements of the city’s defence system, such as the former cannon tower Kiek in de Kök.
The State Party report does not address the proposed construction of a new city administration building. However, in January 2011 ICOMOS reviewed plans for this building, set in the buffer zone, which had been previously submitted by the State Party. While ICOMOS believes that a building on this site could reinforce the city’s urban fabric, the documentation supplied for the architectural competition did not provide sufficient information concerning the boundaries of the World Heritage property or its buffer zone or specify the importance of respecting the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. As the new building would change views from the sea towards the Old Town and the urban structures in front of the Old Town, ICOMOS recommends that a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment be carried out to assess its impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.