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Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Housing
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Construction proposals in the immediate vicinity of the property that could have an adverse impact on the setting, related vistas and integrity of the property;
  • Lack of an in-depth visual impact study on possible impacts of development projects, as well as lack of an approved management plan;
  • Need for protection of the immediate surroundings of the property through an adequate buffer zone.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

November 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; December 2011: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 31 January 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/426/documents/.

In reply to the Committee’s request, the State Party reported that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in March 2012 is currently being complemented by a National Planning Practice Guidance, aimed at providing additional assistance for the use of the NPPF, including specific guidance related to managing World Heritage properties. It underlined that these and other recently published documents on planning policy guidance are considered to be sufficient to guide planning decisions for the wider setting of the property. It expressed its view that a more detailed framework would be inadequate to the metropolitan character of London and would unreasonably limit its development. The State Party also reiterated the procedures in place for submitting planning applications, which allow the national level to intervene only after the responsible local authority took a decision thereon.

The State Party further reported that, following the Secretary of State’s decision not to call-in the planning application for Elizabeth House, English Heritage and Westminster City Council lodged legal challenges in the courts to the Lambeth Council’s resolution to grant consent for the planning application. In March 2014, the High Court rejected these challenges; the court’s decision would now allow Lambeth Council to issue the permission for the development project. However, no formal consent of approval has yet been issued for the Elizabeth House scheme at the time of preparation of this working document, and the State Party informed that Lambeth Council is still requested to reconsider the planning application taking into account English Heritage’s concerns before making any final decision. The State Party also reported that Westminster City Council is in the process of exploring ways to define the immediate setting of the property in consultation with relevant stakeholders. Once this process would be finalized, it is expected that the relevant planning policy frameworks would be adapted accordingly.

The State Party finally recalled that the planning applications for the development schemes of Nine Elms Regeneration Development Market Towers, Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Island Site were approved and decision notices issued.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

The State Party has developed its set of planning guidance documents to improve coordination of relevant local authorities in view of planning and decision-making related to the property. It is also noted that regulations for the application of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for World Heritage-relevant projects appear to have been strengthened, and that the State Party looks to improve procedures linked to its obligation arising from Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

It is further noted that the State Party does not envisage defining a wider setting for the World Heritage properties in London. It is however underlined that, while the regulatory documents and frameworks seem to be reinforced, the dynamic urban development of the metropolitan area of London requires permanent and particular attention to potentially impacting development projects. It is yet recalled that there is a continued need to better define the wider setting of the property and its protection, and to ensure that timelines for decision-taking for planning applications are such that the results of the Advisory Bodies’ review of planning applications can be appropriately taken into account.

There is serious concern that legal objections to the Elizabeth House development scheme were rejected and that there would be no legal obstacles to issuing the final permission and to implementing the development scheme. Implementing the development scheme as currently planned would constitute a substantial adverse impact on the important views to and from the World Heritage property, its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and integrity. It is therefore recommended that the Committee consider placing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger and request the State Party to reconsider the Elizabeth House development scheme, encouraging the State Party to prepare, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation.

It is also pointed out that the State Party has not taken any steps to intervene and review the development projects of Nine Elms Regeneration Development Market Towers, Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Island Site, which were considered to be potentially impacting on the OUV. It is therefore considered critical that Elizabeth House, as well as the other proposed development schemes of Nine Elms Regeneration Development Market Towers, Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Island Site are revised as a matter of urgency, by taking into account the concerns raised by English Heritage.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.36
Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 426bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.92 and 37 COM 7B.90, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively,
  3. Also recalling the results of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of December 2011,
  4. Takes note of the State Party’s efforts to strengthen the policy and planning framework through guidance documents and enhanced coordination of the relevant planning authorities;
  5. Notes with concern that the State Party has not taken action to revise the development schemes of Nine Elms Regeneration Development Market Towers, Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Island Site, and urges the State Party to ensure that the proposals are not implemented in their current form but revised in line with the concerns raised by English Heritage;
  6. While noting that formal consent has yet to be granted for the Elizabeth House development scheme, also notes with serious concern that there are no legal obstacles for granting final permission for the development scheme, and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that the proposal is not approved in its current form and that it be revised in line with the concerns raised by expert bodies, including English Heritage;
  7. Requests the State Party to ensure that, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, any larger-scale projects which may be proposed in the future in the immediate and wider setting of the World Heritage property be submitted to the World Heritage Centre as soon as possible, and that adequate time be allowed for thorough review of each project by the Advisory Bodies before any decision is taken;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.
Draft Decision:   38 COM 7B.36

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.92 and 37 COM 7B.90, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively,

3.  Also recalling the results of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of December 2011,

4.  Takes note of the State Party’s efforts to strengthen the policy and planning framework through guidance documents and enhanced coordination of the relevant planning authorities;

5.  Notes with concern that the State Party has not taken action to revise the development schemes of Nine Elms Regeneration Development Market Towers, Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Island Site, and urges the State Party to ensure that the proposals are not implemented in their current form but revised in line with the concerns raised by English Heritage;

6.  While noting that formal consent has yet to be granted for the Elizabeth House development scheme, also notes with serious concern that there are no legal obstacles for granting final permission for the development scheme, and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that the proposal is not approved in its current form and that it be revised in line with the concerns raised by English Heritage;

7.  Considers that the implementation of the Elizabeth House development scheme constitutes a potential threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and that the property is in danger in conformity with Chapter IV.B of the Operational Guidelines, and decides to inscribe the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including St Margaret’s Church (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

8.  Requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, together with a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;

9.  Also requests the State Party to ensure that, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, any planned larger-scale projects in the immediate and wider setting of the World Heritage property be submitted to the World Heritage Centre as soon as possible, and that adequate time be allowed for thorough review of each project by the Advisory Bodies before any decision is taken;

10.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

Report year: 2014
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2014) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
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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