1.         Tower of London (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 488)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

Criteria  (ii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/488/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/488/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Visual impact of the building projects of the Minerva Tower and London Bridge on the setting and integrity of the property;

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/488/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

According to the state of conservation report submitted by the State Party on 31 January 2005, the managers of the property, the Historic Royal Palaces, hired consultants to reconsider the issues of setting and visual integrity of the property following the Public Inquiry in January 2003.  This was called to consider the development of a "Sky Space Model" which aims to define in three dimensions the visual setting of the Tower as perceived from pedestrian level, and to provide a tool for assessing the visual impact of proposals for development within that setting.

The report also indicated that the Historic Royal Palaces considered what policies might be appropriate to achieve Objective 5 of the draft Management Plan which is "to ensure that the wider setting of the Tower is adequately protected from development which is not compatible with technique status, dignity and character of the World Heritage Property".  Detailed proposals were set out in a document "Towards a Strategy for Protecting the Setting of the Tower of London World Heritage Property".  The public consultation exercise finished in early 2005.

The State Party also informed the World Heritage Centre that in July 2004 HM the Queen opened the newly improved Tower Hill as the immediate setting to the Tower of London.  This was the last phase of an eight-year £20 million scheme to improve the setting of the Tower of London and to create a new public space for both Londoners and visitors.

At the time of the preparation of this document, the World Heritage Centre is contacting the State Party to find out whether the requested in-depth study on the possible impact of development projects has been carried out, and to seek updated information on the development of the Minerva Tower;

ICOMOS considers that the setting of the Tower needs to be defined and protected as a matter of urgency, given the pressure for new development in this part of London.  The protection should be acknowledged in relevant local Strategic Plans so that the protection of the setting of the Tower takes precedence over development pressures where these are incompatible with protection of the outstanding universal values for which the Tower was inscribed.

The completion of the Management Plan for the Tower, and its adoption by key stakeholders, is a very necessary first step in this process.  Given the admirable record in the U.K.  for the completion of Management Plans for World Heritage Properties, ICOMOS would like to see this Plan completed, implemented and respected by local Strategic Plans at the earliest opportunity, in order that the setting of this property is not further compromised.  Recent planning approvals for the Minerva Tower and the London Bridge Tower (the Shard of Glass) have been granted, even though they were opposed by English Heritage for their impact on the Tower of London. 

The State Party undertook considerable efforts to ensure that the setting of this monument is preserved as much as possible in the face of the development of this part of London, on either side of the Thames River.

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


Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.89

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.103, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3. Takes note with regret that the requested in-depth study on the possible impact of development projects in the immediate vicinity of the property has not yet been submitted to the World Heritage Centre;

4. Recalls the commitment of the State Party of the United Kingdom at the time of the inscription of the property in the World Heritage List, to enforce policies aiming at protecting the environment of the Tower and to apply restrictive covenants on new developments;

5. Considers that, if the study is not completed, the Committee may need to examine the possibility of inscribing the property in the List of World Heritage in Danger;

6. Welcomes the improvements to the setting of the Tower of London through the completion of the Tower Environs Scheme which has created a new public space in London;

7. Strongly requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2006 with a progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan, the above-mentioned in-depth study and developments of the construction of the London Bridge Tower and the Minerva Tower, for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).