The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 28 January 2011. This addresses the recommendations of the Committee at its 34th session and other conservation issues.
A joint UNESCO/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 8 to 13 November 2010, as requested by the Committee at its 34th session. A report of the mission is available online at the following Web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/34COM/.
a) Rehabilitation programme for the Varangian caves
The State Party reports that the main parts of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra caves that are open to the public are in good condition but the lesser branches including the Varangian Caves are not. The report states that surveys of the Varangian caves have been undertaken, and also work on ‘fixing’ ancient inscriptions and remains of frescoes, and that these will lead to the development of a rehabilitation project. This will include ‘possible clearing’ of the near caves ruined in mediaeval times. No further details or timescale are provided, and no copy of the complex rehabilitation programme for the Varangian caves, as requested by the Committee, has been supplied.
The mission noted that the multi-disciplinary surveys of the caves provide for the first time a comprehensive analysis and assessment of their state. This reveals that although the condition of the main caves is better, there are problems in the nearby caves and the state of the Varangian caves is critical. There is an urgent need to re-build the soft red stone that has been destroyed by a landslide. The mission was informed that a programme of work was ready for nearby caves and that the section on the Varangian would not be completed until late 2010. Problems related to the landslide near the caverns, noted by the 2009 mission, have been partially neutralised.
b) Moratorium on building construction and proposed major projects
The State Party reports that construction of a 150-metre tall building at Klovsky descent has started in the buffer zone. As this threatens the dominance of the property’s silhouette along the river, the Scientific Methodical Council of State Cultural Heritage has passed a resolution to review the project.
The State Party did not provide detailed information on the following projects which the Committee had requested to be halted, further to the recommendations of the 2009 mission: buildings on the territory around the Arsenal and the earth fortification, hotel complex around Saint Spas of Berestove Church, hotel and residential complex on the land of the former military factories near the Arsenal, buildings in the buffer zone of the Saint Sophia Cathedral, and other high-rise buildings that could compromise the panorama of the historical monastic landscape along the Dnieper.
However, the mission noted that due to the moratorium on projects, currently no project has obtained a building permit. For example, construction around the Arsenal is currently suspended.
The policy on new construction in the buffer zone of the Lavra monastery is due in some measure to the comprehensive approach to management. The mission did not find such a positive development in the buffer zone of Saint Sophia. This is largely due to the absence of effective instruments for management of the area. In the absence of strict rules, conflicts arise constantly in the area and these absorb a considerable amount of institutional and social energy.
The mission was informed that there were plans for 30 new buildings in the buffer zone of Saint-Sophia. Among these are proposals at Gonchar 17/23. ICOMOS had commented on the height, building shape and size of this building in 2010 when it was referred to the World Heritage Centre. The mission considered that the pretentious scheme with pseudo historical elements does not respect the local architectural context at all and recommended reducing the overall height of the building and re-designing it to reflect the scale of neighbouring buildings.
The mission took note of a proposal to re-build the Orthodox Cathedral (Desyatinnaya Zerkov) destroyed in the 1930s where archaeological remains have been abandoned. There is no complete documentation of the earlier building (originally built in the 11th century and re-built several times, lastly in the 1840s). The mission considered that such a building would change the horizontal line of the existing urban landscape and could impact on the visual integrity and Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Moreover, as this construction has divided the opinions of scholars, policy makers and the public, this supposed place of unification could become a place of discord.
c) Legal protection
The State Party reports that the Law on ‘Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Protection of Cultural Heritage’ was approved on 9 September 2010.
The mission noted that, in addition to this law, several other protection laws had been passed since the previous mission in 2009 and now regulatory measures are in place to ensure the protection of the World Heritage properties, including against infringements. This represents considerable progress.
There are now means in place to create a system of integrated planning of the historic urban centre and its protected areas. A "historic urban area" will be created for the historical centre of Kyiv, including the property and its buffer zone. However, the mission noted that currently the lack of regulatory and practical mechanisms to ensure implementation of the above laws, could actually render them inefficient.
d) Submission of finalised management plan and approval of new Urban Master Plan, including conservation Master Plan
The State Party has not submitted a management plan, as requested by the World Heritage Committee. The mission did not obtain any information on the intention to develop such plan.
The State Party reports that ‘General Plan of Kyiv’ (the new City Urban Master Plan) is being developed by the Institute of Urban Development, Architecture and Urban Environment Design of Kyiv. The mission reported that the first phase of a Master Plan for City Planning has been adopted in principle, and should be approved in 2011 by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The mission observed worsening contradictions between the two main management authorities, namely the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Regional Development and Construction. In 2009, there was only a lack of coordination between ministries in sharing strategic spheres of influence, it appears that currently there is a conflict between two departments, which distorts the pattern of financing and investment policy concerning the property; there seems to be no willingness to establish a National Coordination Council and a unified management system that includes all stakeholders; and the role of voluntary associations in the management of the property remains vague and unregulated.
The mission noted very clear intentions to break with the fragmented management of the property and to establish a unified and coherent approach. The mission also noted that a draft decree of the President of Ukraine provides for the transfer of management to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of all museums-reserves that are state property. This should put an end to the conflict between different Ministries and administrations.
The mission considered that it is essential that the fragmented and dysfunctional management of the property is addressed in order to prevent further damage to the property and its buffer zone.
A considerable improvement in the relations between the national and religious authorities can be noted. The religious community at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra actively participated in the organisation of the International Seminar on the role of religious communities in the management of the World Heritage properties, organised, further to the recommendation of the 2009 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, under the high patronage of the President of Ukraine and UNESCO in Kyiv in November 2010.
e) Possible extension of the buffer zone boundaries and a study on views of riverside landscape
The mission noted problems with the existing buffer zones which do not fulfil their role as protection for the setting of the property as there is a lack of protective arrangements that would allow detailed consideration of urban development plans. The most serious problem is the buffer zone of Saint Sophia. The current zone can no longer be a seen as a reliable basis for the control over development of the area. The mission reported that nothing was being done to redefine these buffer zones in response to previous requests of the Committee. It is unclear why the studies on the area undertaken before 2008 by the Institute for Research on theory and history of urban planning and architecture have not been pursued.
The State Party in its reports states that the Preservation Institute has drafted a proposal to extend the buffer zone on the north, west and eastern side to cover an overall area of over 280 ha. This proposal has not been formally submitted for evaluation. Further the State Party reports that an extension of the buffer zone of Saint Sophia Cathedral ensemble will be implemented during the realisation of the Master Plan.
The study of views is not addressed in the report. The mission noted that there have been no studies on monastic river landscape and the mission received no information about possible preparations for such a study.
The mission also noted a real deterioration of the current panorama along the Dnieper. A tall building that has a strong negative impact on the view and the silhouette of the Lavra monastery has been constructed. The building is in the area of regulated buildings and is a clear breach of the status of the area. There are also plans to build a new 30-storey building on Boulevard Krechtchatik that will have a strong negative effect on the landscape. The restaurant near the river that the 2009 mission cited as a negative example still exists. Moreover, the construction there has continued despite assurances that the restaurant would be demolished.
f) Conservation of Lavra monastery and Saint Sophia
The mission reported that at the Lavra monastery regular conservation activity is underway. Uncontrolled construction noted by the 2009 mission had been substantially reduced. At Saint Sophia, the "Program of preservation of properties of Hagias Sophia 2003-2010” includes conservation work on the mural in the Apostolic Church, the Gate of Zabrov, reconstruction and modernization of technical infrastructure, monitoring construction. Conservation work in the Church of Saint Andrew continues. However, there is still no master plan for conservation. The mission requested details of authorised conservation work but was not provided with details.