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Belfries of Belgium and France

Belgium, France
Factors affecting the property in 2008*
  • Commercial development
  • Ground transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Construction project for a covered market for fresh produce at the foot of the Béthune Belfry (France), located in the buffer zone, that threatens the visual integrity of the Belfry and its surroundings;

b) Construction of an underground parking under the Grand Place of the Belfry.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2008
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2008**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

An architectural competition was launched at the beginning of 2005 by the City of Béthune for the construction of a permanent covered market for fresh produce. In July 2005, the jury selected a project that foresaw a building of 39 m by 30 m and no higher than 5.7 m. The covered market would be just within 3 m of the base of the Belfry. The materials envisaged are steel, aluminium and glass. On 21 February 2008, the State Party provided information in response to Decision 31 COM 7B.108:

Improvement of legislation:

The State Party’s services are working towards the improvement of the Heritage Code to include a specific legal provision concerning properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and their buffer zone. This legal provision has not yet been adopted. A Ministry of Culture circular of 28 November 2007 sent to concerned regional authorities (local representatives, Ministry services) contained a temporary provision.

Visual Impact Evaluation of the covered market, architectural perspective:

The specifications indicated that particular attention be accorded to the respect for outstanding universal value of the Belfry. The project was notably selected for this reason. The architectural treatment of the building is intentionally totally modern in order to draw a clear distinction between the Belfry heritage and the new covered market. It is, therefore, low in height with horizontal interest, and leaves a fairly clear view of the Belfry. Furthermore, the construction will be reversible as it is a building placed at ground level.

Visual Impact Evaluation of the covered market, historical perspective:

The tradition of covered markets associated with the belfries is found in Béthune. A cloth market existed from the 14th to the 17th century in Béthune. Rectangular in shape, it surrounded the three sides at the base of the Belfry. It was replaced by boutiques up until their destruction during the First World War. The Belfry has never been isolated on the side where the present project is destined to be. The architectural project follows very closely the place of the historic market, except that it is separated from the Belfry.

Underground parking :

It does not visually affect the Belfry. It will have an underground link to the covered market. Its two entrances are located on two nearby streets and do not give directly onto the Grand Place. Below ground, in the immediate vicinity of the Belfry, the area is irreversibly modified and changed with respect to the old underground quarries and archaeological vestiges linked to the urban history and its surrounding environment.

All the French State Party authorities have approved the architectural and urban project for the covered market and parking. The new covered market – the structure of which appears to be reversible according to the State Party report – covers practically the same area as the ancient cloth market. The integrity of use is respected, and the project appears to satisfactorily respond to the specifications requiring respectful treatment of the visual integrity and authenticity of the property. The covered market relives a tradition of commercial enterprise at the foot of the Belfry, a tradition dating back over long years of history. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2008
32 COM 7B.84
Belfries of Belgium and France (Belgium and France) (C 943 and 943 bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.108, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Takes note of the French State Party's commitment to improve existing legislation to guarantee satisfactory legal protection and appropriate authorization procedures with regard to World Heritage status;

4. Also takes note of the detailed visual impact study provided by the State Party of France regarding the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and that the present project covers, for the most part, the area of the old cloth market, coherent with the secular use of the immediate surroundings of the Béthune Belfry for commercial activities ;

5. Considers that the parking project does not have any direct visual impact on the inscribed property;

6. Encourages the State Party of France to:

a) confirm the strengthening of the legal protection and reinforce procedures for the authorization of work permits for World Heritage properties and their buffer zones;

b) supervise the strict implementation of the project for the covered market of the Béthune Belfry and its reversibility;

c) provide the World Heritage Centre with a detailed report on the archaeological situation of the underground area of the Belfry, by 1 February 2009.

Draft Decision : 32 COM 7B.84

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.108, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Takes note of the French State Party’s commitment to improve existing legislation to guarantee satisfactory legal protection and appropriate authorization procedures with regard to World Heritage status ;

4. Also takes note of the detailed visual impact study provided by the State Party of France regarding the outstanding universal value of the property, and that the present project covers, for the most part, the area of the old cloth market, coherent with the secular use of the immediate surroundings of the Béthune Belfry for commercial activities ;

5. Considers that the parking project does not have any direct visual impact on the inscribed property ;

6. Encourages the State Party of France to  :

a) Confirm the strengthening of the legal protection and reinforce procedures for the authorization of work permits for World Heritage properties and their buffer zones;

b) Supervise the strict implementation of the project for the covered market of the Béthune Belfry and its reversibility ;

c) Provide the World Heritage Centre with a detailed report on the archaeological situation of the underground area of the Belfry, by 1 February 2009.

 

Report year: 2008
Belgium France
Date of Inscription: 1999
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 32COM (2008)
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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