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Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

World Heritage in the UK

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is the lead government department responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the UK. The UK ratified the Convention in 1984 and so far, 29 cultural and natural heritage sites in the UK and its Overseas Territories have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. By signing up to the Convention, the UK Government has undertaken to identify, protect, conserve, and transmit such Sites to future generations. 

Fulfilling our obligations

It is for each Government to decide how to fulfil its obligations under the World Heritage Convention. In the UK this is done through the spatial planning framework, designation of specific assets and the development of World Heritage Site Management Plans. Since 1994 it has been UK Government policy for all UK World Heritage Sites to have Management Plans.

Historic England advises Government on its obligations to World Heritage, working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport which leads as the UK State party to the World Heritage Convention

Protecting UK World Heritage Sites

Within the UK, World Heritage Sites are protected by indivualk designations and through the spatial planning system and World Heritage Sites are a material consideration in planning decisions. National policy defines World Heritage Sites as being of ‘the highest significance’ and requires Local Planning Authorities and the Greater London Authority in London to 'identify and assess the particular significance of any heritage asset [including a World Heritage Site] that may be affected by a proposal (including by development affecting the setting of a heritage asset) ..... and take this assessment into account when considering the impact of a proposal on a heritage asset.’

UK national policy states that effective management of World Heritage Sites involves both the identification and promotion of positive change that will conserve and enhance their Oustanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity and the modification or mitigation of changes which have a negative impact on those values (Planning Policy Guidance, March 2014).

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Maritime Greenwich is a member of ICOMOS-UK which promotes appreciation and understanding of our cultural heritage in the UK and worldwide.

World Heritage UK

We are also members of World Heritage UK (WH:UK), an organisation set up in 2015 to undertake networking, advocacy and promotion of the UK's World Heritage Sites, and UK sites progressing towards World Heritage Site status. WH:UK is the successor to the Local Authority World Heritage Forum (LAWHF), a group for UK local authorities with responsibility for World Heritage Sites in their areas.  WH:UK has taken over the work carried out by LAWHF over a 20 year period and has an extended remit and constitution to include representation from all UK World Heritage Sites.

WH:UK provides a forum for discussion, information exchange and the sharing of best practice and works with a range of national bodies and advisory organisations, including ICOMOS-UK, ICCROM, Historic England, Cadw and Historic Scotland.

UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC)

The UK National Commission for UNESCO works to support the UK’s contribution to UNESCOand b ring the benefits of UNESCO to the UK.

UK World Heritage Sites

There are currently 29 UK World Heritage Sites, the latest being the Forth Bridge which was inscribed on the World Heritage List at the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany in 2015. The UK World Heritage Sites and their dates of inscription/extended criteria are as follows: 

Castles and Town Wall of King Edward in Gwynedd (1986)
Durham Castle and Cathedral (1986)
Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast (1986)
Ironbridge Gorge (1986)
St Kilda (1986 - extended 2004, 2005)
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (1986)
Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey (1986)
Blenheim Palace (1987)
City of Bath (1987)
Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall; Frontiers of the Roman Empire: the Antonine Wall (1987- extended 2005; extended 2008)
Palace of Westminster, St Margaret’s Church and Westminster Abbey (1987)
Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church (1988)
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/487Henderson Island (1988)
Tower of London (1988)
Gough and Inaccessible Islands (1995 - extended 2004)
Old and New Towns of Edinburgh (1995)
Maritime Greenwich (1997)
Heart of Neolithic Orkney (1999)
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape (2000)
The Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda (2000)
Derwent Valley Mills (2001)
Dorset and East Devon Coast (2001)
New Lanark (2001)
Saltaire (2001)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2003)
Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City (2004)
Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape (2006)
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal (2009)
Forth Bridge (2015)


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  • Old Royal Naval College
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  • Royal Museums Greenwich
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  • St Alfege
  • Trinity Laban
  • University of Greenwich
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