Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Report on the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission to Stonehenge, Avebury and associated sites, 27-30 October 2015

Full report: Report on the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission to Stonehenge, Avebury and associated sites, 27-30 October 2015 The recommendations:

4 MISSION RECOMMENDATIONS The mission is hereby proposing a range of recommendations. These recommendations pertain to several levels, and also at a range of time scales: some can have short term implementation (e.g. establishing an expert role for future missions) while others have relevance on the longer term (e.g. ensuring institutional stability). In addition, of course, the recommendations proposed here do not bear on any specific dualling or tunnelling plans, which do not exist as yet. It is self-evident that more specific recommendations will have to be made by future missions, as the project advances and plans become more precise.

4.1 Priority Recommendations

The mission considers the following recommendations as priorities for State Party implementation at the outset of the Development Consent Order (DCO) process:

1. Establish a heritage-centred steering mechanism to ensure proper quality control at all stages of decision making, project design and implementation. This should include a scientific committee, a board of experts for monitoring and quality control at each phase to de defined. Set up a multidisciplinary team to work on a first DCO process including a monitoring and quality control process. Establish relevant sets of partnerships and MOUs between key institutions. Ensure a commitment to necessary human and financial resources.

2. Consider funding and calling upon the guidance of expert advisory joint UNESCO WHC and ICOMOS International technical mission(s) and giving them a role within the upstream process as referred to in the Terms of Reference of the Mission. These missions should be involved throughout all phases of the project and interact with key parties. They should provide guidance and international best practice and perspectives and quality control to DCMS and the project managers, including on compliance with obligations under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

3. Amend the generic DCO process map to show the significant heritage activities to be undertaken, including Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) for assessing impacts on OUV from proposed changes, in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments (2011).

4. Produce an organogram of the key project parties and individuals involved in the project for effective communication to ensure the criticality of heritage being influential and effective from the outset.

5. Produce a Scoping Report following the ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments (2011) that sets out the scope of work necessary for a HIA to be agreed upon with all relevant parties. This report produced at the commencement of the DCO process would also establish project mechanisms which would allow heritage and OUV to be built into the project design process.

6. Establish and incorporate into the project process from the outset current best practice in innovative technology available to the industry in Building Information Modelling (BIM), digital 3D virtual visualisations and virtual reality design with immersive technology in order to inform the iterative option identification and selection process. This would provide a more robust consideration of ‘what if’ scenarios and assessment of impact on OUV feeding back into the design process to achieve maximum protection and enhancement of the attributes of OUV.

7. Ensure the design is procured with the involvement of a landscape architect to adopt international best practice in landscape architecture to design mitigation measures as may be required for visual, noise and luminance factors appropriate to the protection and enhancement of the attributes of OUV. The landscape architect should be an active and influential member of the design team, having significant beneficial influence on the appearance of tunnel portal and approaches, route selection, signage and mitigation measures.

4.2 Critical recommendations

The mission considers the following recommendations as critical for State Party implementation during the DCO process;

1. Align the HIAs with the DCO process being produced during option identification so as to appropriately influence the option identification stage. The HIAs should then be developed for option selection so as to influence refinement of the selected option and subsequent design.

2. Implement the State Party’s commitment to the ‘protection and transmission to future generations’ of OUV at Stonehenge and acknowledge that to do this requires longer term thinking than typical infrastructure design in non-World Heritage Sites. The whole asset life design of the scheme within the World Heritage Site should not be limited by 25 year traffic predictions but incorporate ‘asset resilience’ and ‘future proofing’ in design that do not negatively impact OUV to avoid future potential development / improvements that would negatively impact OUV and the surrounding Archaeological Priority Area (APA). 3. Undertake studies addressing potential changes in visitor numbers and behaviour that may occur by opening up the landscape with a tunnel scheme and ensure asset resilience appropriate to mitigate negative impacts on OUV and in the surrounding Archaeological Priority Area (APA).

4. Challenge the default adoption of Highways England design codes, specifications, norms and usual practice and seek departures where such requirements have a negative impact on OUV.

5. Review and implement international best practice for highway and tunnel design (e.g. signage, gantries, lighting, fire, safety and mitigation measures, etc.) where appropriate to achieve protection and enhancement of OUV.

6. Take account of International Charters related to heritage best practices and spatial planning (e.g. Historic urban landscape approach, Washington Charter, La Valette principals).

7. Develop temporary construction works scheme (e.g. construction facilities, traffic diversions, plant, storage, spoil removal, parking, access roads, fencing, drainage, etc.) in parallel and compatible with the permanent design and procurement so that impact on OUV is assessed for the whole life of the project.

8. Seek out and implement efficiencies in logistics and construction processes to minimise negative impacts on OUV within the World Heritage Site.

4.3 Important recommendations

The mission considers the following recommendations, in the area of archaeological heritage management, are important for the State Party to take on board and implement, in view of the wider-ranging and longer term issues raised by the project.

1. Ensure that relations between the responsible archaeological heritage management agencies and relevant actors are clarified and, as appropriate, formalised (periodic meetings, strategic planning, pooling of resources etc.) These include firstly the relations between Historic England (HE) and the National Trust (NT) (and their respective archaeological officers), and secondly interactions between these and the English Heritage Trust (EHT) and Wiltshire Council Archaeology (WCA) – each with their own remits and interests in the World Heritage site and the dualling/tunnelling project.

2. As part of this clarified collaboration between agencies and actors, ensure that interactions with the developer and funder of the project – Highways England – are carried out in a univocal and coordinated manner by the archaeological heritage parties, and conversely that funding or archaeological oversight and operations reaches all the actors concerned, including Wiltshire Council Archaeology.

3. Ensure particularly that the Historic England/National Trust (English Heritage Trust + Wiltshire Council Archaeology) archaeological heritage partnership, as it develops, exercises its legal, scientific and patrimonial commitments in the most vigorous and proactive ways possible. The wholehearted and decisive involvement of the archaeological partnership in these matters should be a sine qua non condition, including the ability to formulate requirements, veto proposals, orient others etc., in order to ensure that the heritage and archaeology dimensions of the project are clearly and consistently managed for the benefit of the OUV of the World Heritage site in particular, and of heritage and archaeology in general. This includes, among other things, questions of protocol of intervention (research design, sampling and excavations methodologies, recording, databases, archiving, etc.) and the choice of operator(s) to undertake these evaluations and excavations. This last point is crucial – it is strongly recommended that the choice, briefing and control of archaeological operators (i.e. contractors paid for by the developer) remains under the proactive control and close supervision of the archaeological partnership Historic England/National Trust (English Heritage Trust + Wiltshire Council Archaeology).

4. In view of the ongoing uncertainties surrounding the operations of both Historic England (HE) and English Heritage Trust (EHT) – both newly created in April 2015, with reduced budgets and strong pressures for self-sustainability – and in view of prevailing political and economic conditions, confirm the commitment of the State Party (the UK government, DCMS) to the protection and enhancement of archaeological heritage at the Stonehenge World Heritage site for the coming decades. More specifically, the State Party should formulate medium and long-term scenarios in case of further reductions in the funding and capacities of Historic England, and in its ability to exercise its statutory missions as an expert body. Likewise, it should enshrine certain principles of access and public service in the Stonehenge management plan, in the eventuality of an insolvency or restructuration of the English Heritage Trust (EHT) after 2021.

5. Review some elements of its communication strategy, and specifically handle with care and sensitivity any claims regarding the "£1.2 billion investment in heritage" that is represented by the Stonehenge part of the A303 expansion. This is not only objectively questionable since the investment is in the dualling/tunnelling infrastructure, but also likely to be misunderstood and raise (among stakeholders, professionals and the general public) questions as to "why is so much money being spent on heritage?” or on the contrary "why do no other sites or monuments benefit as well from this windfall?

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