At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee expressed its concern about the lack of progress made with the integrated management plan for the property and about the changes made to the “Huerto de las Adoratrices” project. It requested that the State Party suspend the “Huerto de las Adoratrices” project until the results of an expert mission are available, and develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity.
On 29 January 2009, the State Party submitted an updated state of conservation report for the property. This report provides detailed background concerning the State Party’s efforts to initiate the integrated management plan requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session. The report further provides a detailed analysis of a thoroughly designed methodology intended to provide a flexible and practical planning instrument based on the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property. In its report the State Party informs that it has already launched the project and expects its completion at the end of 2009: “Its objective is to be an integrative instrument that serves as a common reference framework for the actions to be taken by all the participating agents, and especially the Public Administrations. It will ensure the proper coordination of actions and take into consideration any possible problems that could arise. It will also incorporate the mechanisms required for self-assessment and error correction.”
However, while the State Party provides project documentation for the projects at the “Huerto de las Adoratrices”, the report does not address the World Heritage Committee’s specific requests that the State Party suspend the las Adoratrices project until the results of an expert mission were available, and to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value.
A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission took place from 11 to 13 February 2009 to evaluate the overall state of conservation of the property, its management requirements including clarification of its boundaries, as well as the “Huerto de las Adoratrices” project.
The mission noted a generally satisfactory state of conservation of the property, particularly as compared to the first mission in 2002, and significant planning and conservation efforts by the responsible local and regional authorities. The mission also noted that work on the integrated management plan is underway, coordinated by the Regional Government of Castilla and Leon, which also includes the preparation of the draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value.
Concerning the revised project of the “Huerto de las Adoratrices”, the mission welcomed the efforts made by the developer and architects to reduce the volume and height of the building project but also considered that the project, despite its adaptation, would still negatively impact the integrity of the World Heritage property. The mission therefore recommended that the State Party be asked to “seek another location for this project, the utility of which is not disputed” as requested by the Committee in its Decision 26 COM 21B.69 (2006).
The mission further pointed out the need to base the management plan on research into the important attributes of the property in order to preserve its integrity and authenticity, and avoid unsuitable future alterations to its historic fabric including façadism.
The mission formulated the following specific recommendations:
- The mission recommended that the “Huerto de las Adoratrices”project be definitively stopped at its currently proposed location due its potential negative impacts on the surrounding urban structure and monuments, and thus on the integrity and Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
- The mission recommended that the underground parking project at the “Plaza de los Bandos” be abandonned given the potential negative impact an increase in automobile traffic would have on the integrity of the property and its Outstanding Universal Value as well as the potential impact on the authenticity of this archaeologically sensitive area of the former Via de la Plata. The mission also suggested setting up an integrated traffic plan for the old town.
The mission further recommended:
- that the State Party consider possible modification of the boundaries of the inscribed property to include those urban areas which are related to its Outstanding Universal Value and which were previously omitted (a draft plan is included in the Annex of the joint mission report);
- that the State Party consider modification of the boundary of the buffer zone to fully include the historic town within the town walls of the middle ages, as well as the urban sector across the Rio Tormes with its important views of the World Heritage property, so as to increase protection of the property;
- that the State Party, in line with the binding regional legislation, elaborate a “Special Plan” which includes more restrictive measures for proposed modifications to the built environment. (The mission notes that Article 43 of the Law of 11 July 2002 and article 94 of the accompanying decree stipulate that towns should adopt “Special Plans” which guarantee maintenance of urban structure, architetctural qualities and landscape silhouettes; the mission noted the importance of integrating the requirements of the Special Plan and the integrated management plan requested by the World HeritageCommittee);
- that the State Party finalize as soon as possible the draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value as a basis for the integrated management plan of the World Heritage property;
- that the local and regional authorities enhance the information flow and communication with local communities;
- that the local and regional authorities reinforce their efforts to promote the importance of the transmission of traditional restoration craftsmanship, in particular in relation to the city’s characteristic masonry work.
The report of the joint mission is currently being transmitted to the State Party for comments.