At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008) the World Heritage Committee expressed its concern at the numerous construction or reconstruction projects in the buffer zone that could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, invited the State Party to create a national coordination board to coordinate management between the two components of the property, Saint Sophia Cathedral site and Related Monastic Buildings, and the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra site, requested the State Party to draft a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and a state of conservation report, that detailed major intended or authorized construction projects that could impact on Outstanding Universal Value, for consideration at its 33rd session.
The State Party submitted its state of conservation report on 20 February 2009.
The report provides details on legislative protection, research and monitoring taken from the Periodic Report. It does not address the request of the World Heritage Committee to provide details of threats in the buffer zone or the creation of a national coordination board.
From 2 to 7 March 2009, a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property. It considered the following:
a) Legal protection
The mission recommends regulating, within the context of a general reform of cultural heritage legislation, the mandatory detailed operating regimes for the protection and the development of the territory of the property and its buffer zone. Currently the legal and planning restrictions for the property do not appear to be respected and this has led to development that threatens the property.
b) Management system
The lack of precise operating regimes, general and detailed urban development plans, as well as the contradictions between stakeholders, are seriously undermining the urban fabric of the buffer zone around each of the two components of the property.
Currently the two parts of the property are managed completely separately. The mission recommends reforming the management system to allow the two component parts of the property to be managed as a single integral property through a unified management system with effective coordination between the various stakeholders and a unified management plan with an action plan for both parts of the property.
It also considered that there was urgency in establishing an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Bureau as recommended in Decision 32 COM 7B.111 of the World Heritage Committee.
Furthermore it considered that consideration should be given to uniting the two designated reserves within a single institution that would be responsible for the unified operational management of the whole property.
c) Planned construction work in the buffer zone
The mission noted a considerable number of threats to the property from construction and reconstruction within the buffer zone and considered that the infringements made in the buffer zone and to the wider landscape of the Dnieper River threaten the property. They undermine the authenticity of its context, modify its silhouette or break important visual axes connecting the two parts of the property.
The buffer zone around the Saint Sophia site has suffered from localised degradation from construction that have not respected the ban on construction not exceeding the traditional heights and scales of existing buildings. For instance two very tall buildings erected on “Patorjinska” Street break an important visual axis for the city looking towards the Saint Sophiaensemble; the new Hyatt hotel undermines the stylistic unity along the major axis between the Saint Sophia and “Sabor Mikhailovski” ensembles and numerous attic extensions are ruining the traditional appearance of the rooftops.
The buffer zone around the Lavra site is under even greater threat from the far more extensive and large-scale constructions planned in the immediate vicinity of the property. In particular, this involves a major residential and hotel complex between Saint Spas of Berestove Church and the property; and a project for a major residential and hotel complex on the site of the former military factory near the Arsenal. In both cases, the municipal powers have sold land before defining its usage, without putting in place any construction restrictions or have ignored the opinion of the Reserve. In the case of the Arsenal site, (where a competition was held), the procedures do not concord with procedures drawn up with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, do not conform to the detailed urban development plans drawn up by the “Kievgenplan” Institute, nor with the operating regimes of the buffer zone.
Although several particularly aggressive projects for new constructions have been suspended (for example, the construction of a tall building opposite the Saint Sophia site at the corner of Volodimirska and Sofiiska streets, and the height of certain other planned buildings has been revised down, the mission recommended a moratorium on the following planned construction projects:
- Buildings on the territory around the Arsenal and the earth fortification following the international competition;
- A hotel complex around Saint Spas of Berestove Church;
- A hotel and residential complex on the land of the former military factories near the Arsenal;
- Tall buildings that could compromise the panorama of the historical monastic landscape along the Dnieper.
The mission considered that there was a need to compile, within the context of the General Plan for Kiev, a general and detailed urban development plan for the property and its buffer zone. In the light of such a plan, the usage and construction on the above sites should be reassessed.
d) Buffer zone
As early as 1990, ICOMOS had drawn attention to the significance of the wider setting of the property in terms of its association with the monastic riverside landscape of the river Dnieper. This panorama became a model for other sites in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The mission considered that the protection of this panorama should be one of the key objectives of the overall conservation strategy for the property. The mission recommended that a study be initiated to consider visual perspectives of the property in its river landscape setting.
The mission noted several changes made to the buffer zone and its protection since inscription and considered that there was a need for the State Party to provide an updated survey map of property and its buffer zone showing all the changes that have occurred.
The mission recommends extending the eastern boundary of the buffer zone of the Saint Sophia site to include Maidant Nezalejnosti Square an important part of the urban structure of the buffer zone.
e) State of conservation
The mission considered that the state of conservation of the fabric of the key monuments of the property is satisfactory due to the training of staff in the two Reserves and in the research institutes. However there are concerns over the integrity and the authenticity of certain structures of lesser value, notably at the Lavrasite, where the state of the catacombs is still critical for want of an overall project for their consolidation.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are concerned at the serious threats to the property arising from the ineffective management system that has allowed inappropriate development, both planned and executed, in the buffer zone and setting of the property, apparently in contravention of existing planning and legislative controls.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that there is a need to reform the management of the property to address these threats through putting in place a system that allows both sites to be managed as a single integral property, and through integrating the management of the property within the planning framework of the wider urban area. It also considers that there is a need for capacity building to allow better management training for heritage specialists and for the way that the Church can contribute to the protection of cultural heritage, and that perhaps the latter could be addressed through an international symposium.