Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1990
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/540/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 5,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/540/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount provided to the property: USD 18,000 from the Dutch Funds-in-Trust
Previous monitoring missions
February 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission; 28 January to 3 February 2007: International Conference of Eastern and Central Europe Countries on the Application of Scientific and Technological Achievements in the Management and Preservation of Historic Cities inscribed on the World Heritage List, St Petersburg;
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
a) Quality of new design projects in the inscribed zone;
b) High-rise development
c) Confusion over definition and extent of inscribed zone and buffer zone;
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/540/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009
At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008) the World Heritage Committee regretted that the State Party did not provide a detailed state of conservation report, and that the maps submitted by the State Party did not provide detailed boundaries and buffer zones of all components of the property, including the Leningrad Region; it invited the State Party to establish, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, an international expert group on the St. Petersburg Retrospective Inventory. The Committee also urged the State Party to finalize the boundary of the property and its buffer zone.
The Committee expressed its grave concern about the proposed Gazprom tower of the “Ohkta Centre”, which could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of this property and urged the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre on the official position of the proposed project and also requested the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property to evaluate the potential impact of the proposed Ohkta Tower on the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property, and not to take action on any project until the results of the mission are available.
The Committee also requested the State Party, to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009; it further requested the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, a state of conservation report, including details on the Gazprom project, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Although the World Heritage Committee, at its 32nd session requested the State Party to submit a state of conservation report, and a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, but the State Party has not submitted either.
a) Legal Protection
At federal level, the property is treated as national heritage, although there is no specific legislation for World Heritage. The mission noted that the adoption of “The Law of St. Petersburg” (2006), that delineates protection zones and regimes of land use within designated areas, greatly contributes to the protection of the property. However the Act regulates protection only on the portion of the property located within the boundaries of St. Petersburg. Other parts, located on the territory of the Leningrad district, have no protected areas.
The mission reviewed the boundary issues: In 1990, at the time of inscription, the boundaries initially proposed were approved by Resolution No. 1045 of 30/12/1988 of the Leningrad City Council. A buffer zone was not provided. In 2007, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre a new version of the boundaries in which the limits of the property were significantly reduced. In 2009, further new maps were sent to the World Heritage Centre. The limits identified in 1990 as being for the property were set out as limits of the buffer zone, while the territory of the property was again greatly reduced. The gap between the proposed boundaries today and those that were included in 1990 poses a serious problem concerning the status of the property. Another problem is related to the lack of correspondence between the Convention and national legislation on the issue of boundaries. The federal law establishes a system of three types of areas of protection, while the Law of St. Petersburg delineates 6 types of protected areas. The maps of the boundaries submitted in 2009, thus have no direct legal basis with the property consisting of an assemblage of different areas of protection.
The mission also noted the evolving liberalisation of protection regimes. During the period 1713-1918, there were very strict regulations for the height of buildings. This regulation complied with the so-called "celestial line" horizontal panorama of buildings and ensembles that reflected the surrounding landscape. In 2004 building heights rose up to 24 meters for the city centre and up to 48 meters outside the centre; today in certain construction areas outside the centre, heights may go up to 100 metres. Moreover, a not entirely clear procedure is envisaged, which provides for the possibility of exceeding this height (such as for the proposed Okhta tower with a height of 396 metres).
The management of the property is shared between the two Federal districts: Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad District. They are significantly uneven as regards their staff (150 persons on one side, 18 people on the other side). This arrangement means that there is no single entity with responsibility for the World Heritage property. There is no management plan for the property, which might cover stakeholders, activities and resources.
The mission notes that the system of planning instruments for the management of the property is relatively ineffective for the following reasons: there is a lack of a master plan and planning for the whole of the property that would allow integrated territorial management; there is no link between spatial planning and the system of protected areas with conservation schemes; the various planning tools have limited effectiveness in controlling the height of buildings, as permissions are often given to plans with no elevations, or in coordinating architecture and urban planning.
At the time of inscription in 1990, the property was nominated as a collection of monuments and ensembles, although the ICOMOS evaluation stressed the landscape scale of the property. Since then in tune with changing concepts of cultural heritage, the property has come to be seen more as an urban landscape closely linked to and shaped by its riverine structure and with its panoramas focusing on the watercourses that were its main transport arteries. Of particular significance is the panorama along the Neva, which maintains the "celestial line" horizontal landscape. The property needs to be managed as a landscape for the interconnection between its attributes and for their overall panoramas.
d) Gazprom Okhta Centre
This proposed tower exemplifies the difficulties inherent in the current legal, planning and management systems. In 2006, Gazprom launched an international competition for the project on the banks of the Neva, in the area of the estuary of the Okhta. The specifications for the competition were not in tune with the organs of protection. The project is a tower of 300 metres, while the current system limits the height to 100 metres. The competition winner, RMJM (Great Britain), proposes to build a tower of 396 metres.
Requests to the State Party for more information on the project have not been met. The tower is said to fulfil a social need. Currently, archaeological excavations are being carried out on the site where the remains of XIV-XVII century Swedish fortress have been discovered. The sponsors are considering a design that takes account of these remains without them being retained in situ. The proposal to build the Okhta tower has provoked a strong reaction from civil society organizations.
The mission is of the opinion that, in its current position and with its height, the tower threatens the Outstanding Universal Value of the property:
As requested by the 32nd session of the Committee, high-level meetings between the Chairperson of the Committee, the Director of the Centre and the authorities of St Petersburg took place, including with the governor.
e) State of conservation
The mission was made aware of some current restorations projects such as the palace of Prince Alexei Alexandrovič, and the Theater Kamennoostrovskii. Beside these laudable achievements, the mission noted a number of negative examples, as a result of factors mentioned above and the lack of effective management. These include demolitions and inappropriate development at hotel buildings (Ambassador Hotel, Hotel Astor), where only the facade of the monument has been preserved and buildings that appear to contravene regulations, such as the Renaissance Hotel, where the rue Potchtanskaïa is overhung.
f) Mission recommendations
The mission made the following recommendations:
- As the boundaries put forward in the most recent maps do not conform to what was inscribed in 1990, the State Party is requested to propose formally any amendments it wishes to make to the boundaries in line with the Convention and national legislation. It further recommends that the proposal includes a buffer zone which should protect the wider landscape and especially the panorama along the Neva.
- The State Party is requested to improve the management of the property and its buffer zone in the following areas: Create a leading management authority for the property and its buffer zone; Develop a management plan that would allow coordination between actors, activities and resources for the preservation and development of the property, guide the urbanization process, and define the recommended degree of intervention for elements of the property and the buffer zone, in accordance with territorial plans.
- The World Heritage Committee should not support the construction of the Okhta tower in its current from, as it constitutes a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The mission recommends that the Committee could remain open to alternative proposals that respected the authenticity and integrity of the property. Any new proposal must be accompanied by an independent environmental impact assessment.
- The mission considers that the threats to the Outstanding Universal Value identified above suggest that the World Heritage Committee should issue a warning to the State Party about the possible inclusion on the List in Danger if the recommended measures are not addressed.
- The mission suggests holding an international conference in Saint Petersburg on the preservation and management of World Heritage sites that are urban landscapes with similar characteristics to the property.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS remain concerned at the discrepancy between the boundaries of the property as inscribed in 1990 and what is now being put forward by the State Party as the inscribed area, as this shows a significant reduction. It suggests that if the State Party wishes to reduce the boundaries this needs to be part of a formal submission to the Committee. The lack of concerted management is clearly having undesirable consequences in terms of inappropriate development and re-development. They consider that a management system, with a defined management authority and management plan, need to be put in place as a matter of urgency. The Okhta tower would fundamentally and irreversibly alter the horizontal skyline of the property which has been a conscious feature of the city since it inception, and be a threat to its integrity and Outstanding Universal Value, and they consider that work on this project should be suspended.
In the absence of substantial progress, the World Heritage Committee may wish to consider the property for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.118
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-08/33.COM/7B.Add,
2. Recalling Decision 32COM 7B.105, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),
3. Regrets that the State Party did not provide a state of conservation report, or a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value;
4. Notes with concern, that the maps provided by the State Party define boundaries that include a significantly smaller area than that inscribed, and encourages the State Party to submit formally a significant boundary modification (according to Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines) to allow the Committee to consider this issue;
5. Also notes with concern that the buffer zone proposed does not extend to encompass the landscape setting of the property and in particular the panorama along the Neva River, and requests the State Party to reconsider this buffer zone and submit it formally to the World Heritage Centre;
6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
7. Expresses again its grave concern that the proposed "Ohkta Centre Tower" could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and requests the State Party to suspend work on this project and submit modified designs, in accordance with federal legislation and accompanied by an independent environmental impact assessment;
8. Also expresses its grave concern about the continuous lack of a leading management system and defined mechanisms of coordination for the management of the property;
9. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments to assess the state of conservation of the property;
10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a state of conservation report for the property that addresses the above points for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010, with a view to consider, in the absence of substantial progress, to inscribe the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and related Groups of Monuments (Russian Federation) on the List of the World Heritage in Danger at its 34th session 2010.