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Policy HC2 World Heritage Sites


  1. Boroughs with World Heritage Sites and those that are neighbours to authorities with World Heritage Sites should include policies in their Development Plans that conserve, promote, actively protect and interpret the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage Sites, which includes the authenticity and integrity of their attributes and their management.
  2. Development proposals in World Heritage Sites and their settings, including any buffer zones, should conserve, promote and enhance their Outstanding Universal Value, including the authenticity, integrity and significance of their attributes, and support their management and protection. In particular, they should not compromise the ability to appreciate their Outstanding Universal Value, or the authenticity and integrity of their attributes.
  3. Development Proposals with the potential to affect World Heritage Sites or their settings should be supported by Heritage Impact Assessments. Where development proposals may contribute to a cumulative impact on a World Heritage Site or its setting, this should be clearly illustrated and assessed in the Heritage Impact Assessment.
  4. Up-to-date World Heritage Site Management Plans should be used to inform the plan-making process, and when considering planning applications, appropriate weight should be given to implementing the provisions of the World Heritage Site Management Plan.

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Maritime Greenwich, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including St Margaret’s Church, and the Tower of London are among the most important cultural heritage sites in the World and are a key feature of London’s identity as a world city. In ratifying the World Heritage Convention, the UK Government has made a commitment to conserving and enhancing World Heritage Sites’ Outstanding Universal Value and their settings. This duty is transferred to local authorities.

The context of each of the four London World Heritage Sites is markedly different and the qualities of each is conditioned by the character and form of its surroundings as well as other cultural, intellectual, spatial or functional relationships. The surrounding built environment must be carefully managed to ensure that the attributes of the World Heritage Sites that make them of Outstanding Universal Value are protected and enhanced, while allowing the surrounding area to change and evolve as it has for centuries.

The setting of London’s World Heritage Sites consists of the surroundings in which they are experienced, and is recognised as fundamentally contributing to the appreciation of a World Heritage Site’s Outstanding Universal Value. Changes to the setting can have either an adverse or beneficial impact on the ability to appreciate the site’s Outstanding Universal Value. The consideration of views is part of understanding potential impacts on the setting of the World Heritage Sites. Many views to and from World Heritage Sites are covered, in part, by the London Views Management Framework (see Policy HC3 Strategic and Local Views and Policy HC4 London View Management Framework). However, consideration of the attributes that contribute to their Outstanding Universal Value is likely to require other additional views to be considered. These should be set out in World Heritage Site Management Plans (see below), and supported wherever possible by the use of accurate 3D digital modelling and other best practice techniques.

Policies protecting the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage Sites (WHS) should be included in the Local Plans of those boroughs where visual impacts from developments could occur. It is expected that the following boroughs should contain such policies: City of London (Tower of London WHS); Royal Borough of Greenwich (Maritime Greenwich WHS); Hounslow (Royal Botanical Gardens Kew WHS); Lambeth (Westminster WHS); Richmond (Royal Botanical Gardens Kew WHS); Southwark (Tower of London WHS, Westminster WHS); Tower Hamlets (The Tower WHS, Maritime Greenwich WHS); Wandsworth (Westminster WHS); City of Westminster (Westminster WHS). Supplementary Planning Guidance will provide further guidance on settings and buffer zones.

Boroughs should ensure that their Local Plan policies support the management of World Heritage Sites, details of which can be found in World Heritage Site Management Plans. For Outstanding Universal Value, Management Plans should set out;

  • the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value, and
  • the management systems to protect and enhance the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Sites.

The Mayor will support steering groups in managing the World Heritage Sites and will actively engage with stakeholders in the development and implementation of World Heritage Management Plans. It is expected that the boroughs with World Heritage Sites, GLA, Historic England and neighbouring boroughs will be part of the World Heritage Site Steering Groups that contribute to the management of the sites, including the drafting and adoption of Management Plans.