The World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) expressed its grave concern about the continuous lack of a leading management system and defined mechanisms of coordination for the management of the property. The World Heritage Committee also noted with concern, that the maps provided by the State Party define boundaries that include a significantly smaller area than that inscribed, as well as that the buffer zone proposed does not extend to encompass the landscape setting of the property and in particular the panorama along the Neva River, and requested the State Party to reconsider this buffer zone and submit it formally to the World Heritage Centre. The World Heritage Committee expressed again its grave concern that the proposed "Ohkta Centre Tower" could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and requested the State Party to suspend work on this project and submit modified designs, in accordance with federal legislation and accompanied by an independent environmental impact assessment.
The State Party submitted a state of conservation report to the World Heritage Centre on 29 January 2010.This report addresses the following main points:
- Submission of a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value,
- On boundary issues, the State Party reports that historical and cultural studies are being carried out by the relevant authorized organisations, and suggested that on the basis of these studies, the “boundaries of components will be adjusted” and the “relevant buffer zones will be made in accordance with the effective legislation” .
- Concerning the "Ohkta Centre Tower", the State Party reports that the project “undergoes expert city planning evaluation, and judicial investigation by the public prosecutor”;
- In response to the Committee’s expression of grave concern about the lack of a management system and necessary mechanisms for management coordination of the property, the State Party report proposes a multi-purpose programme to address these needs. This programme would consist of preservation measures, financing, organisational improvements, manpower training and scientific research, tourism development and exchanges with historic cities in comparable situations in other countries.
A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission took place from 21 to 28 March 2010, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session. The mission made recommendations in following principal areas:
a) Boundary issues
The mission recommends giving the State Party more time to choose carefully among two options for possible boundary modification/clarification of the component parts of the property within the Historic Centre:
- reducing the boundary limits of the 1990 inscription and re-nominating (as this would be a significant modification of the boundaries),
- modifying the national legal status of the property to allow the serial site, as inscribed in 1990, to be recognized as a single entity (this option would not need a re-nomination),
The mission considered that the latter option was preferable as this conserves the boundaries of the 1990 inscription and best corresponds to the landscape characteristics of the property.
Outside the Historic Centre of St. Petersburg the mission recommended finalising the clarification and the establishment of boundaries of all existing component parts.
The mission recommends that a buffer zone be established to include the landscape surrounding the Historic Centre, in particular the panorama along the Neva, and proposed specific parameters and objectives necessary to define this extended buffer zone adequately, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session, Furthermore, the mission recommends to establishing buffer zones also for the main existing component parts situated in the Leningrad Region.
The mission recommends holding an international expert forum in St. Petersburg in order to evaluate various propositions concerning the boundaries of the property and its buffer zones.
On 15 April, following the mission’s request, the State Party submitted a document which represents a progress in terms of the awaited clarification of the boundaries, especially addressing for the first time an overall view of the component parts situated in the Leningrad Region. However, this document should be considered only as a first step of a phased project, as further efforts will have to be made to fully accomplish the necessary clarification of boundaries of all the component parts.
b) Statement of Outstanding Universal Value
The mission recommends that the State Party revise the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value submitted in its recent report to better integrate the landscape characteristics of the Historic Centre, in particular the panorama along the Neva. The mission also recommends that the World War II events related to the property be included in the text.
c) Management of the property
The mission reiterates the recommendations of the 2009 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, concerning designation of a principal management authority with sufficient authority to control the authenticity and integrity of the property, as well as the need to develop overall Management Plan for the property (linked to an Action Plan), including a Plan for Environmental Design and Urbanism for the entire territory, as well as a Safeguarding Plan which would define appropriate degrees of intervention for each element of the property, which would permit co-ordination among all stakeholders concerned.
d) “Ohkta Centre” Tower
The mission highlighted the potential negative impact of the proposed project of the "Ohkta” tower on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The mission notes with concern publication by the City Government of a Decree legitimizing a height of 403 meters for the site, and further notes that the federal authority Rossokhrankultura has taken a strong position against construction of the tower. The mission recommends that the State Party renounces definitively the planned tower, and suggests that future construction on the territory conform to the requirements of Rossokhrankultura and the accompanying federal legislation, the archaeological value of the site and the need to conserve these attributes in situ.
On 14 April 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation requested UNESCO to provide information on the potential threat of the construction of the “Okhta” tower on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and on the consequences of such a threat if realized. On 10 May 2010, the World Heritage Centre provided to the State Party detailed information in response on this request, underlining that the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session expressed again its grave concern that the proposed "Okhta” tower could impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and requested the State Party to suspend work on this project and submit modified designs, in accordance with federal legislation and accompanied by an independent environmental impact assessment. The World Heritage Centre’s response also noted the conclusions of the recent joint mission which highlighted the potential negative impact of the existing project on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
On 1 June 2010, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre that the President of the Russian Federation had considered and approved proposals of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia for the property. The State Party reported that the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation had especially noted the decision of the World Heritage Committee which requested that work on the construction of the Okhta Centre Tower be suspended and that new designs reducing the building's height be considered.
The authorities underlined the importance of complying with the recommendations of the Committee in this regard in order to maintain a constructive dialogue. The State Party stressed that relevant guidelines were being sent to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Administration of Saint-Petersburg and other organisations concerned.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the State Party has made significant progress in implementing the World Heritage Committee’s decision to abandon the current proposals for the 400 metre “Okhta Centre” Tower which would have adversely affected the historic cityscape of St Petersburg and threatened the outstanding universal value of the property. They consider that the City needs to explore other architectural solutions that will not adversely impact on the skyline of the city or its outstanding universal value, will be in line with the height limit of 40 metres for that area of the city, and will respect the archaeology layers. Furthermore any new project needs to be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment that considers the impact on outstanding universal value at the earliest possible stage.
In order to clarify the boundary of the property and its buffer zones, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies support the suggestion of the Mission to hold an expert forum to explore the two main options.