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Historic Centre of Prague

Czechia
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Housing
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Development of high-rise constructions on the Pankrác Plain
  • Lack of effectiveness of existing planning, management, and conservation measures for the property, particularly lack of specific regulations for high-rise developments
  • Lack of Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for proposed projects which may affect the OUV of the property
  • Lack of a finalized Management Plan
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 2 (from 2003-2014)
Total amount approved : 115,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property in March 2019 (mission report available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/documents/). The mission report includes recommendations regarding the Management Plan for the property, the draft Metropolitan Plan, amendments to the Act for Cultural Heritage Preservation, Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) processes, the buffer zone, and individual places and projects within the property.

Subsequently, on 25 February 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, with extensive annexes, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/documents/, providing the following information:

  • There is an alignment between the principles of the Management Plan and the City of Prague Metropolitan Plan, but the applicable statutory framework does not allow for designated heritage zones and monuments and for heritage conservation requirements to take precedence over other policies;
  • The draft Metropolitan Plan will introduce a range of instruments covering height control, regulation of development, panoramas, vistas and local character objectives;
  • The State Party continues to raise issues resulting from different interpretations of the Committee Decision 32 COM 7B.86, with regard to the Pankrác Plain;
  • Progress has been made towards removing the conceptual plan for infilling the current built form cluster on the Pankrác Plain from the Metropolitan Plan. There is also ongoing discussion regarding the broader planning and development context – which is complicated by existing projects and approvals, especially the approval of the construction of the Rezidence Park Kavčí Hory project to the west of the Pentagon;
  • Regarding the Committee’s request to submit a HIA for any proposed project which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, the State Party explains that HIAs have no basis in Czech law and the Management Plan adequately addresses conservation needs. The State Party also informs that periodic reports and other information about major plans fulfil the intent of the Committee’s HIA request;
  • New methodological guidelines and other publications have been issued by the Heritage Department of Prague City Hall;
  • The North-South Trunk Road will be transformed into an urban boulevard, and fulfil a new role in the life of the city;
  • Information is also provided on a project at Wenceslas Square, progress towards possible intervention in relation to Vyšehrad Station, and the future vision for the area within the Žižkov Station and its surroundings.

On 9 November 2020, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre, that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will be undertaken for the planned cable car project between Podbada-Troja-Bohnice located within the buffer zone of the property.

On 24 March 2021, the State Party organized the online seminar Integrating Urban Heritage in Urban Planning Processes with the support of the World Heritage Centre. The State Party presented the progress made in regard to the development of the Metropolitan Plan and UNESCO provided a perspective on the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape.

On 31 March 2021, the State Party provided further advice regarding the workshop outcomes, proposed preparation of a new zoning plan, implementation of the 2019 mission report recommendations, negotiations regarding the scale of new development in the Pankrác Plain area and a proposed architectural competition for revitalisation of the former Masaryk Railway Station.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The State Party continues to develop important strategic documents, including amendments to the Act for Cultural Heritage Preservation and a draft Building Act, the Management Plan for the property (now largely completed) and the City of Prague Metropolitan Plan. These processes do not yet adequately address the findings of the 2010 and 2019 missions or previous Committee Decisions. It is welcome that the State Party organized an online seminar Integrating Urban Heritage in Urban Planning Processes, with the support of the World Heritage Centre, and as recommended by the 2019 mission. It is noted that at this workshop, the State Party presented progress with development of the Metropolitan Plan and that the relevance of the 2011 Recommendation Historic Urban landscape (HUL Recommendation) was highlighted.

With regard to the cable car project planned in the buffer zone, an initial technical review by ICOMOS concluded that it will not be generally visible from the property. The proposed architectural competition for revitalisation of the former Masaryk Railway Station is welcome and it is recommended to remind the State Party of the provisions in Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and the obligation to submit proposals to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies for any major interventions in and around the property that might have an impact on its OUV, including the guidelines for the design competition entries or their Terms of Reference.

Notwithstanding the recent workshop, the lack of primacy afforded to the retention of the OUV remains an issue for the property. Furthermore, the concern expressed in the property’s Statement of the OUV that: the integrity of the Historic Centre of Prague is threatened by the pressure of the developers wishing to build oversized new buildings in the historic centre and its buffer zone persists. The 2019 mission concluded that although the property is generally in a good state of conservation, potential danger to its OUV exists, as defined in Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines. As an example, the application of height limits originally set for the Pentagon to the Pankrác Plain resulted in approval of the inappropriate Rezidence Park Kavčí Hory project. The recent information provided to the World Heritage Centre on ongoing negotiations with the developer regarding the scale of the new development in the Pankrác Plain area is welcome. It remains concerning that since 2010, the State Party has not otherwise responded to recommendations and requests with respect to large-scale development projects proposed within the buffer zone and the wider setting of the property, nor adopted a high-rise limitations plan, in order to avoid a visual change in the historic urban landscape of Prague.

Comprehensive measures are required to remove potential threats to the OUV of the property, particularly modifications to the detailed building height controls across the city should be included in the draft Metropolitan Plan, in accordance with the findings and recommendations of the 2019 mission. The identification and protection of designated heritage reserves and monuments, and that of the World Heritage property and its buffer zone should also be integrated in the Plan. It is recommended that the State Party and its responsible agencies recognize that high-rise construction on the Pankrác Plain, including buildings erected prior to inscription of the property, is inconsistent with retention of the OUV and that the Committee’s Decision 32 COM 7B.86 applies to the totality of the Pankrác Plain. It is also recommended that the State Party implements an immediate moratorium on buildings above the general height of their surroundings on the Pankrác Plain (as defined in Figure 32 of the 2019 mission report) and gives priority to developing and implementing appropriate regulations, including a high-rise limitations plan, with specific regulations to prevent  the negative impact caused by the existing cluster of high-rise buildings. The State Party may be reminded that HIAs are vital for development projects and activities that are planned within or around a World Heritage property in conformity with Paragraph 118bis of the Operational Guidelines. HIAs for all proposed projects, together with an assessment of cumulative impacts of projects within the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting is needed to be undertaken and submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, focusing on their potential impact on the OUV of the property.

Since the State Party has indicated that it is hindered to respond to the requests of the World Heritage Committee due to the established legal framework, it is recommended that the Committee advises the revision of the legal measures to  ensure adequate protection for the World Heritage property and its OUV. As it stands at present, the OUV of the property remains under threat, and inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger may become necessary to provide a framework and facilitate a process by which ongoing threats and further damage to the authenticity and integrity of the property may be prevented.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.44
Historic Centre of Prague (Czechia) (C 616bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.73 and 42 COM 7B.21, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes with satisfaction the organization of the online seminar ‘Integrating Urban Heritage in Urban Planning Processes’ with the support of the World Heritage Centre following the recommendation of the 2019 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, as well as the inclusion of the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL Recommendation) and the focus on preparation of the City of Prague Metropolitan Plan, and requests the State Party to submit the plan upon its finalization to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to its adoption;
  4. Also notes the information provided by the State Party about a range of conservation projects, as well as the progress towards statutory changes, and the pending finalization of the Management Plan for the property, but expresses concern that these processes do not yet adequately address previous Committee decisions or the findings of the 2010 and 2019 Reactive Monitoring missions;
  5. Further notes the information submitted by the State Party regarding the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the planned cable car project located between Podbada-Troja-Bohnice within the buffer zone of the property, and also requests the State Party to submit the proposal for the cable car project along with the EIA and SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Notes furthermore the proposed architectural competition for revitalisation of the former Masaryk Railway Station and also invites the State Party to transmit to the World Heritage Centre, detailed information on the project proposals including the Terms of Reference or guidelines for design competition entries, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Endorses the 2019 mission recommendations and also requests the State Party to implement them fully particularly the:
    1. Advancement in aligning national and local laws and regulations with those necessary for heritage protection and management of World Heritage properties in accordance with the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines, and in line with international norms and standards that may include new laws as well as amendments to existing ones such as the Amendment of the State Heritage Care Act, and the Act for Cultural Heritage Preservation,
    2. Refinement and finalization of the Management Plan for the property in line with the HUL Recommendation and its integration and alignment with the City of Prague Metropolitan Plan to ensure protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in its setting,
    3. Establishment of intersectoral coordination so that heritage protection is integrated with urban development plans, policies and processes across different sectors from transport to housing, water supply, tourism, and land management,
    4. Establishment of building regulations that may be varied for each quarter or historical block as appropriate, to guide and manage the identity of the built form at a range of scales from volume and height to building materials, colours, railings, and doorframes,
    5. Preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) in line with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties (2011 ICOMOS Guidance) to assess the effect of significant policies and projects on the OUV of the property,
    6. Specific recommendations regarding individual components, buildings, and projects;
  8. Reiterates its great concern about the longstanding potential and ascertained threats to the property, as defined in Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines, due to continued inadequate management of issues such as the extensive large-scale urban development in the buffer zone of the property and its wider setting, as well as the lack of adequate regulations for high-rise developments that have had continued to adversely impacts on the property’s OUV;
  9. Notes with concern that the State Party has not implemented the Committee’s previous request to introduce a general moratorium on major projects within the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting as requested in the Committee Decision 42 COM 7B.21, and further requests the State Party to implement an immediate moratorium on buildings above the general height of their surroundings on the Pankrác Plain (as defined in Figure 32 of the 2019 mission report), and give priority to developing and implementing appropriate building regulations, including a high-rise limitations plan; and reminds the State Party that high-rise construction on the Pankrác Plain is inconsistent with the protection of the OUV of the property and that the Committee Decision 32 COM 7B.86 applies to the totality of the Pankrác Plain;
  10. Requests furthermore that the State Party submit to the World Heritage Centre, in conformity with Paragraph 118bis of the Operational Guidelines:
    1. HIAs for all proposed projects which may affect the OUV of the property prepared in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance,
    2. An assessment of the cumulative impacts of all executed projects within the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting, from the baseline of the condition at the time of the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List, regarding the impact of these projects on the OUV of the property;
  11. Considers that the property’s authenticity and integrity is threatened by the above described factors, therefore, requests moreover the State Party to reinforce the protection and management of the property, including the revision of the legal framework that are designed to ensure these, and prevent any future damage to its OUV;
  12. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress in complying with the decisions of the Committee and the implementation of the recommendations of the 2019 mission, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.44

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.73 and 42 COM 7B.21, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes with satisfaction the organization of the online seminar ‘Integrating Urban Heritage in Urban Planning Processes’ with the support of the World Heritage Centre following the recommendation of the 2019 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, as well as the inclusion of the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL Recommendation) and the focus on preparation of the City of Prague Metropolitan Plan, and requests the State Party to submit the plan upon its finalization to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to its adoption;
  4. Also notes the information provided by the State Party about a range of conservation projects, as well as the progress towards statutory changes, and the pending finalization of the Management Plan for the property, but expresses concern that these processes do not yet adequately address previous Committee decisions or the findings of the 2010 and 2019 Reactive Monitoring missions;
  5. Further notes the information submitted by the State Party regarding the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the planned cable car project located between Podbada-Troja-Bohnice within the buffer zone of the property, and also requests the State Party to submit the proposal for the cable car project along with the EIA and SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Notes furthermore the proposed architectural competition for revitalisation of the former Masaryk Railway Station and also invites the State Party to transmit to the World Heritage Centre, detailed information on the project proposals including the Terms of Reference or guidelines for design competition entries, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Endorses the 2019 mission recommendations and also requests the State Party to implement them fully particularly the:
    1. Advancement in aligning national and local laws and regulations with those necessary for heritage protection and management of World Heritage properties in accordance with the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines, and in line with international norms and standards that may include new laws as well as amendments to existing ones such as the Amendment of the State Heritage Care Act, and the Act for Cultural Heritage Preservation,
    2. Refinement and finalization of the Management Plan for the property in line with the HUL Recommendation and its integration and alignment with the City of Prague Metropolitan Plan to ensure protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in its setting,
    3. Establishment of intersectoral coordination so that heritage protection is integrated with urban development plans, policies and processes across different sectors from transport to housing, water supply, tourism, and land management,
    4. Establishment of building regulations that may be varied for each quarter or historical block as appropriate, to guide and manage the identity of the built form at a range of scales from volume and height to building materials, colours, railings, and doorframes,
    5. Preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) in line with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties (2011 ICOMOS Guidance) to assess the effect of significant policies and projects on the OUV of the property,
    6. Specific recommendations regarding individual components, buildings, and projects;
  8. Reiterates its great concern about the longstanding potential and ascertained threats to the property, as defined in Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines, due to continued inadequate management of issues such as the extensive large-scale urban development in the buffer zone of the property and its wider setting, as well as the lack of adequate regulations for high-rise developments that have had continued to adversely impacts on the property’s OUV;
  9. Notes with concern that the State Party has not implemented the Committee’s previous request to introduce a general moratorium on major projects within the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting as requested in the Committee Decision 42 COM 7B.21, and further requests the State Party to implement an immediate moratorium on buildings above the general height of their surroundings on the Pankrác Plain (as defined in Figure 32 of the 2019 mission report), and give priority to developing and implementing appropriate building regulations, including a high-rise limitations plan; and reminds the State Party that high-rise construction on the Pankrác Plain is inconsistent with the protection of the OUV of the property and that the Committee Decision 32 COM 7B.86 applies to the totality of the Pankrác Plain;
  10. Requests furthermore that the State Party submit to the World Heritage Centre, in conformity with Paragraph 118bis of the Operational Guidelines:
    1. HIAs for all proposed projects which may affect the OUV of the property prepared in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance,
    2. An assessment of the cumulative impacts of all executed projects within the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting, from the baseline of the condition at the time of the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List, regarding the impact of these projects on the OUV of the property;
  11. Considers that the property’s authenticity and integrity is threatened by the above described factors, therefore, requests moreover the State Party to reinforce the protection and management of the property, including the revision of the legal framework that are designed to ensure these, and prevent any future damage to its OUV;
  12. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2023, with a view to considering, in absence of substantial progress in complying with the decisions of the Committee and the implementation of the recommendations of the 2019 mission, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2021
Czechia
Date of Inscription: 1992
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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