(January 2010) Incorporating Cultural Heritage Values into planning for Sustainable Development at the City level

Incorporating Cultural Heritage Values into planning for Sustainable Development at the City level image

The three-year PhD research project will investigate the place of cultural heritage in the planning process for sustainable development, supported by Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) (and the version specific to the UK, Sustainability Appraisal (SA)/SEA)) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) tools. It is based on case studies of the UK's World Heritage (WH) sites. The research methodology is based on case studies analysis. Understanding the context (e.g. planning practice, organizational structure, norms and values), where the Impact Assessment Tools are applied, will reveal barriers and opportunities for better communication process among the key stake holders, regarding cultural heritage values. It will also help to uncover the potential for improvements in their efficiency. The critical role of the context, including the "extent of the political commitment to sustainable development" (Wallington et al.: 2007) and "the relationship of the SEA [EIA] to the planning activity itself" (Stoeglehner et al.: 2009, abstract) have been identified by many scholars.

Chosen case studies will comprise World Heritage (WH) sites officially recognised as possessing Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). In particular, the research will focus on sites over which UNESCO has expressed concern regarding existing/potential negative impacts of developments on OUV. Statistics show that 40% of WH sites reported in 2007 potential negative impacts of urban development and regeneration projects on OUV (Van Oers: 2007). The research will therefore aim to improve understanding of the reasons underlying this negative development. Analyses of the Cases will provide an understanding of:

  • How are Impact Assessments (EIA, SEA) performed: who is involved in the assessment process and how?
  • What are the challenges involved in performing of Impact Assessments, related to developments with the potential impact on urban historic areas?
  • How cultural heritage values (OUV) are identified and communicated among planners, WH officers, developers and community?
  • How are cultural heritage indicators chosen?

Examination of the chosen World Heritage sites will help to establish improved ways of considering cultural heritage values in planning for sustainable development. Fundamentally, the research will contribute to an improved impact assessment framework that better addresses cultural heritage values. Data collected from case studies will help to identify commonalities, which represent barriers and opportunities for better communication of cultural heritage values among stake holders.

The research aims to contribute to the UNESCO & TU/e international project "OUV, World Heritage cities and Sustainability" in the development of a web-based tool for the OUV assessment process. This should lead to increased transparency and clarity in decision-making practices related to planning for WH sites.

Overall the research aims to facilitate better consideration of cultural heritage values in decision-making practices in planning, and argues the importance of this in creating attractive and economically as well as culturally viable places to live.