1.         Dutch Water Defence Lines (Netherlands (Kingdom of the)) (C 759bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(v)

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/759/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/759/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Factors identified at the time of significant boundary modification:

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/759/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 29 November 2022, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/759/documents/. On 15 March 2023, the State Party provided an update to the World Heritage Centre on the new planning act, which had been approved by the Dutch decision-making bodies. Progress on several conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in this report, as follows:

The State Party in its report provided an update on projects and developments that may affect the World Heritage property. The list includes the Zeilfort Kudelstaart project, for which a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) was undertaken and was subject to a Technical Review by ICOMOS, transmitted to the State Party in August 2022, as well as the Woudrichem housing development, for which the planning permission was annulled following an objection procedure by the Council of State. A new project that takes the OUV into account is currently being developed here.

Through press articles, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies learned about illegal landscape works at Fort bij Velsen that took place in 2021. The information was sent to the State Party on 17 July 2023, which replied on 27 July 2023 that at the time of inscription, the fort was only partially intact, but that a study was currently underway to determine how to improve the quality of the fort by repairing not only recent damage, but also that dating back to the 1980s. The State Party further stated that an integrated plan for the fort is currently being developed and should enable the fort to be re-established through careful planning and restoration.

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

The State Party reports encouraging progress in strengthening the protection and management of the property. The pending implementation of the Environment and Planning Act will bring an integrated approach to the management and protection of the OUV of World Heritage properties in the Netherlands. The progress made in the analysis of sensitive areas by defining the attributes both within the property and its spatial environment is highly welcome. The State Party should be commended for its efforts in this direction and for embedding the protection of these attributes into its planning systems and procedures. It would be advisable for these studies to be provided to the World Heritage Centre. The State Party’s commitment to implementing impact assessments as a planning tool is equally commendable.

Nevertheless, many conflicting planning challenges remain for this property. In 2017, ICOMOS advised the State Party to seek alternative options to the Golf Course and Heemskerk variants for the A8-A9 extension. A developed design and HIA for the A8-A9 project were reviewed by ICOMOS in 2022 and the resulting technical review was transmitted to the State Party in December 2022. The new proposal was based on the so-called Golf Course variant, planned in an open subterranean road. The project included several mitigation measures to strengthen the OUV of the property. However, ICOMOS concluded that the project would still have an unacceptable adverse impact on the OUV. Likewise, in its review of Fort bij Kudelstaart, ICOMOS, while noting that a continued use of the fort will support its conservation in future, considered that the proposed project would have a significant negative impact on this component and, consequently, on the OUV of the property. The project is currently being reassessed and the State Party is to be requested to send revised plans to the World Heritage Centre.

The negative recommendation of the Gooise Meeren Municipality regarding the Muiden Marina is indicative of a functioning conservation management system. The halting and annulling of the zoning plan for the Woudrichem housing project and the commitment to developing a project aligned with maintaining the attributes of the OUV are welcome.

The State Party has not reported on any renewable energy projects that may affect this property but has developed an assessment framework for incorporating solar and wind energy in spatial planning. Further details of this framework and possible projects should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. Similarly, the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies note that illegal landscape works, involving demolition of the embankments at Fort bij Velsen at the end of 2021 have been halted and that a study of possibilities for reconstruction and enhancement of the site is underway. The Committee may nevertheless wish to request that the integrated plan for the fort be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for possible review by the Advisory Bodies. Details of other projects such as, but not limited to, the new visitor centre at Loevestein Castle, the development in the area of Voordorpse Veld, housing development in the inundation zone of Werkendam and intervention plans for the reuse of built infrastructure, would be welcome as well.

The new Environment and Planning Act calls for a restructuring of the planning system in the Netherlands. A report on its implementation and effectiveness should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre along with the State Party’s next state of conservation report.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.192

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 8B.23 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Commends the State Party for the progress made in implementing the Committee’s previous decisions, particularly the work carried out to define the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) within the property and its larger spatial context, and encourages the State Party to submit these inventories to the World Heritage Centre with its next state of conservation report;
  4. Notes the forthcoming implementation of the new Environment and Planning Act and requests the State Party to provide details of its implementation and effectiveness also in its next state of conservation report;
  5. Also notes the cancellation of the zoning plan for the housing development at Woudrichem, the ongoing reassessment of the Zeilfort Kudelstaart development and that the timeline for decision-making on the A8-A9 connection has not yet been set, and also requests the State Party to:
    1. provide details of the modified plans for the Woudrichem site and Zeilfort Kudelstaart to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any planning decisions are made,
    2. investigate alternatives to the Golf Course and Heemskerk variants for the A8-A9 connection, including other modes of transport to improve connectivity in the region, and to provide details of timelines and designs for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies before any planning decisions are made;
  6. Further notes the overview provided by the State Party of projects that may affect the property, and further requests the State Party provide information on the new visitor centre at Loevestein Castle, the housing development in the inundation zone of Werkendam, the planned development at Voordorpse Veld, the rehabilitation process of Fort bij Velsen, and other intervention projects for the reuse of the built heritage within the property before any planning decisions are made;
  7. Notes furthermore the assessment framework for incorporating solar and wind energy into spatial planning and requests furthermore that details of the assessment framework and of planned wind and solar projects which may affect the OUV of the property be provided to the World Heritage Centre;
  8. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, 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 47th session.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 8B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/8B,
  2. Adopts the Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for the following World Heritage properties inscribed at previous sessions of the World Heritage Committee: