1.         City of Valletta (Malta) (C 131)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (i)(vi)

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/131/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 21,625
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/131/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

This property has never been reported on under State of conservation reporting; however, the following issues were mentioned in the Periodic Report of 2006

a) Lack of definition of a buffer zone

b) Changes in building heights might alter the city’s skyline

c) Major potential development of the new City Gate and the Opera house

d) Development, visitor/tourism pressures

e) Change of use of resident houses for business

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/131/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

A state of conservation report was provided by the State Party on 3 February 2009 in response to a request from the Director of the World Heritage Centre, following information and complaints received by members of the Valletta community about a recently constructed 16 storey building on the Tigne peninsula. The State Party’s report also refers to correspondence of 12 September 2007 and 1 July 2008 concerning the boundaries of the property and development within this boundary. It reiterates information provided the previous year.

The State Party report informs about conservation and restoration work that has been carried out by the State Party on important buildings and churches in Valletta since its inscription in 1980, leading to a revival of the city. It notes that substantial European Union Structural Funds will be dedicated to the restoration of part of the 16th century defenses of Valletta. Protective measures resulting from the enactment of the Planning Development Act and the Cultural Heritage Act are described, including the declaration of Valletta as an Urban Conservation Area, the scheduling of the most significant buildings and monuments and the designation of an Area of High Landscape Value, which includes the surrounding harbour fortifications.

The State Party advises that two large scale developments are proposed within the World Heritage property – an underground museum near St. John’s Cathedral and an underground car park beneath Palace Square. Also, the State Party will begin plans for the rehabilitation of the entrance to the Capital City and the site of the Old Opera House.

A map showing the boundary of the property as implied in the Justification is provided. The boundary follows the outside line of the fortifications enclosing the city on its peninsula down to the shoreline.

Outside this is a designated Area of High Landscape Value but its extent is not clear in the documents as provided because the colouring does not show up. No buffer zone as such for the property is provided.

The 16 storey building that was the subject of the complaint is located in residential and commercial development on the Tigne peninsula across the harbour from the property. It is outside the property and outside the Area of High landscape Value. A photograph was provided in the 2007 documentation taken from the Bighe peninsular looking across Valletta to the high building to support the State Party’s claim that it does not detract from the intrinsic and immense cultural value of Valletta. The image as provided is insufficiently clear to enable any conclusion. The State Party refers to Local Plan policies in relation to views from Valletta and to the fact that the height of the proposed development was reduced to accord with these.

No reference is made in the State Party’s report to height increases within the World Heritage property. However the 2007 documentation referred to the addition of penthouses to buildings within the boundaries of the property and a photograph showing some cases where this had been allowed was provided to support the State Party’s claim that these height increases had marginal or no negative impact on streetscapes and views. The image as provided is insufficiently clear to enable any conclusion.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider:

a) The information provided is insufficiently clear to allow an understanding of the impact of the recently constructed 16 storey building on the property, or of the proposed underground museum and car parks;

b) There is a need for an overall declared buffer zone for the property, in which height restrictions are established on the basis of key views and vistas from within, and from outside across Valletta from adjacent peninsulas. The State Party should be invited to undertake a Views and Vistas Analysis from strategic viewing points as a basis for such height controls;

c) There is a need for clear policies relating to height controls within the property in key areas, in order to protect streetscapes that contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value of Valletta. The State Party should be invited to undertake a “Views and Vistas Analysis” within the property as a basis for such policies;

d) Such analysis needs to be based on a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and identification of the attributes that carry that value.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.113

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Notes the boundary definition of the property as provided in the report by the State Party;

3. Requests the State Party to:

a) Provide a clear map showing the boundary of the property,

b) Establish a declared buffer zone in accordance with Paragraph 103 of the Operational Guidelines, with height controls around the property as a means of protecting the skyline configuration of the city and prepare a "Views and Vistas Analysis" from strategic points within and outside the property,

c) Establish clear policies in relation to height controls within the property as a means of protecting the skyline configuration of the city, by means of a "Views and Vistas Analysis" covering key areas and streetscape,

d) Submit detailed information on the proposed large scale developments within the property to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

4. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a state of conservation report on the issues above and in particular on the progress made with the establishment of a buffer zone and height controls within the property, together with information on the proposed large scale development projects.