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World Heritage Convention

Decision 41 COM 7B.55
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/17/41.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.36 and 39 COM 7B.87, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Takes note of the State Party’s efforts to strengthen the policy and planning framework through guidance documents, but notes nevertheless that there is still an inadequate urban planning framework to manage development in the setting of the property, with the result that developments, which have been approved contrary to the advice of English Heritage, are causing cumulative negative impact on the OUV of the property;
  4. Strongly regrets that the State Party did not comply with the requests made in Decision 38 COM 7B.36 to ensure that the proposal of the Nine Elms Regeneration Development Market Towers, Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Island Site project be revised and reconsidered, following concerns raised by English Heritage (now Historic England), and notes with concern that these projects have been built, and therefore, requests that the advice of Historic England, be given a stronger weight in determining when to call in an application for development within the property or within its setting.
  5. Also notes with concern that once a local planning authority has made a planning decision, it is not possible to challenge it, unless the State Secretary calls it in, and also notes that the State Party considers the World Heritage Committee’s timeline to be incompatible with applicable statutory planning timeframes and requirements.
  6. Further notes that the lack of an urban planning framework creates a need to assess individual projects and requests the State Party to ensure that, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, any large-scale projects which may be proposed in the future in the immediate and wider setting of the property be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any decision is taken or approval is issued;
  7. Recommends therefore, that planning polices be reconsidered to ensure that balancing between protection of OUV and the other benefits of development projects is more strongly weighted towards the requirement to protect OUV, in accordance with the obligations of the State Party under the World Heritage Convention, and underlines the need to link the strategic city development vision with heritage-led regulatory planning documents in order to provide clear legal guidelines to manage all World Heritage properties in London in a consistent manner.
  8. Also takes notes that major conservation works are planned as part of a Restoration and Renewal project for the Palace of Westminster and also requests the State Party to submit details, including Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) prepared in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for World Heritage cultural properties, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, as soon as these are available and before any decision is taken or approval is issued;
  9. Further requests the State Party to finalize the review of the Management Plan for the property as soon as possible and to submit an electronic and three printed copies to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  10. Taking note of the 23 recommendations of the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission, to identify potential courses of action to address ways of strengthening protection, including planning frameworks and management structures and limit the impacts development projects and other current planning applications on the OUV of the property, and requests furthermore the State Party to expedite their implementation;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, 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 43rd session in 2019.
Decisions adopted during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee (Krakow, 2017)
Context of Decision