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Historic Centre of Brugge

Belgium
Factors affecting the property in 2012*
  • Housing
  • Other Threats:

    Gradual erosion of the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value and consequently threaten the integrity of the property with regards to its overall coherence and originality.

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Potential impacts of new construction projects

b) Gradual erosion of the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value and consequently threaten the integrity of the property with regards to its overall coherence and originality.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2012
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2012**

March 2010: World Heritage/ICOMOS mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

The factors affecting the property, identified by the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of March 2010, remain relevant. Following notice of two new projects (see below) within the perimeter of the property and likely to affect its integrity, the World Heritage Centre, recalling the provision of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, requested comments from the State Party (letter of 27 December 2010). The local authority of Brugge replied (February 2011) as did the Belgian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO (29 March 2011). On 31 January 2012, the State Party transmitted a report on the progress made in the implementation of the Committee recommendations made during its 34th session in 2010 (Decision 34 COM 7B.79). Moreover, a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the property was sent on 28 January 2011 and is currently under review by ICOMOS. The State Party report indicates that, following the joint mission, the Municipality of Brugge adopted on 25 June 2010, an action plan in response to the recommendations formulated in the mission report.

a) Responses to the Committee recommendations

The Management Plan, the final version of which is foreseen for summer 2012, in particular concerns the protection of urban canal parcels, the green belt of fortifications, green areas or those free of buildings, and monuments of a historical and/or architectural character. It must combine this protection with the need for economic revitalization of the historic centre and improvement of the quality of life, attractiveness of the historical and contemporary aspects of the city, as well as the development of tourism, commerce and the economy in general.

It is clear that this dual objective is not easily achievable. Especially since, in the light of regional and national legislation, the State Party considers that the overall protection of the perimeter of the property, recommended by the Committee under the national classification of “urban landscape”, is not possible: this would lead to insoluble problems of a legal or judicial nature. However, a Decree concerning intangible heritage and the notion of “protected landscape” is currently being prepared. More detailed information on the content and the level of protection that this notion encompasses might enable a satisfactory solution in line with the dual objectives of the Management Plan. Additional information on the notion of “protected landscapes” provided by the State Party would be appreciated.

b) The Prédikherenrei (National Archives Centre)

Constuction work progressed considerably during the 2010-2011 period and in February 2012, and the roof is now ready to be placed in position. Without repeating the arguments presented (Annex 2 of the State Party report and the Permanent Delegation letter of 29 March 2011), the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the various warnings expressed in 2010 by the World Heritage Committee and the joint mission, have not produced any modification to the project prior to the commencement of the works. 

This case is an indication of the gradual erosion of the urban fabric flagged up by the joint mission in 2010. In respect to this project, there has been no prior information sent by the State Party to the Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. The letter of the Permanent Delegation of 29 March 2011 mentions multiple concertations but no specific date of dispatch of this information to the Secretariat of the Committee, whereas officially the project has been studied since 2004 and the public presentation took place in December 2009.

c) The Minnewaterpark Terrace

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the ongoing procedure referred to (Annex 2 of the State Party report) in no way exonerates the Brugge authorities from anticipating the possible consequences of economic development projects mentioned therein. The site in question – in the perimeter of the property – and its area, require a harmonious integration of any large-scale project. Lacking this, any such project would certainly increase the erosion of the authenticity and integrity of the property.

d) General aspects of the property

Since the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission report of March 2010, the Historic Centre of Brugge continues to undergo negative erosion to its major characteristics upon which is based its Outstanding Universal Value. This phenomenon is due, among other things, to the numerous new construction projects appearing one after another, involving the demolition of older buldings judged to be of little or no heritage value.

In the light of the recommendations of the joint mission and the Committee, transmitted by the State Party to the city of Brugge, the city set up a control procedure for demolitions, presented in its response of February 2011 (p. 4/6). The city has added a chapter to its town planning code (Chapter 4 : Protection of UNESCO World Heritage, Article 9, point B : Demolition) which prohibits the demolition of monuments presenting a historic value and/or a value linked to the urban landscape views. However, an exception can be made : when the replacement building foreseen in the project possesses a « sufficient architectural quality ». This new rule becomes law and introduces ambiguity in its interpretation.

The categorization into of seven levels of heritage value of the monuments follows along the same lines of possible reinterpretation. The scientific aspect is interesting. However, it is to be feared that it will leave the door open to eventual convenient delistings and thus demolitions. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2012

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider, in view of earlier controversial discussions regarding projects that do not take full account of the long historical context in the development of the Historic Centre of Brugge, that the management of the property does not have sufficient and adequate control over the development projects that have a negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

They recognize the efforts of the State Party in the implementation of the recommendations in Decision 34 COM 7B.79 of the Committee, but consider that these efforts should be pursued by the State Party as concerns the implementation of points c), d) and e) of this decision.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies acknowledge the efforts of the State Party in the preparation of the Management Plan. However, they recommend that the Committee request the State Party to finalise this Plan in 2013, also taking into account the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Historic Urban Landscape (November 2011) and to ensure that the management of the property is based on the recognition of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2012
36 COM 7B.72
Historic Centre of Brugge (Belgium) (C 996)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.   Recalling Decisions 33 COM 7B.94 and 34 COM 7B.79, adopted respectively at its 33rd (Seville, 2009) and 34th (Brasilia, 2010) sessions,

3.   Recognizes the efforts of the State Party in the preparation of the Management Plan and requests the State Party to finalize this Plan, also taking into account the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Historic Urban Landscape (November 2011) and to submit it in 2013 to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies, and to ensure that the management of the property is based on the recognition of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and reiterates recommendations c), d) and e) of Decision 34 COM 7B.7 adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010);

4.   Also reiterates its concern regarding the gradual erosion of the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value, as continued erosion is a threat to the integrity of the property;

5.   Also requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, of any project presenting a potential impact to the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property;

6.   Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a detailed report on the progress achieved in the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Draft decision: 36 COM 7B.72

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decisions 33 COM 7B.94 and 34 COM 7B.79, adopted respectively at its 33rd (Seville, 2009) and 34th (Brasilia, 2010) sessions,

3. Recognizes the efforts of the State Party in the preparation of the Management Plan and requests the State Party to finalise this Plan, also taking into account the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Historic Urban Landscape (November 2011) and to submit it in 2013 to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies, and to ensure that the management of the property is based on the recognition of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and reiterates recommendations c), d) and e) of Decision 34 COM 7B.7 adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) ;

4. Also reiterates its concern regarding the gradual erosion of the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value, as continued erosion is a threat to the integrity of the property;

5. Also requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, of any project presenting a potential impact to the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property;

6. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a detailed report on the progress achieved in the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Report year: 2012
Belgium
Date of Inscription: 2000
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 36COM (2012)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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