11 July 2001
Disused hospitals and military buildings
Recommendation 1485 (2000)
Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 759th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (4 July 2001)
The Committee of Ministers has considered Recommendation 1485 (2000) on “Disused hospitals and military buildings” of the Parliamentary Assembly and decided to bring it to the attention of their Governments, as well as of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), together with the opinion of its specialised Committee on Cultural Heritage, the CC-PAT, appended to this reply.
The Committee of Ministers would like to note that this Recommendation is relevant to all historic buildings in public ownership and conforms to the general line pursued by the Council of Europe in the field of integrated conservation of the built heritage, contained in the Council of Europe reference texts Compendium (the Council of Europe and Cultural Heritage 1954-2000).
It is also noteworthy that several Council of Europe member states are already applying such good practice as mentioned in the Recommendation. Experiences and case studies in this field could be provided with the help of the European Heritage Network correspondents (www.european-heritage.net).
Any further action and the launching of a European exchange of information programme would be extremely helpful for local authorities and professionals. The Committee of Ministers invites its member states to consider the setting up of such schemes.
Appendix to the reply
Opinion of the Cultural Heritage Committee (CC-PAT) on Recommendation 1485 (2000) on “Disused hospitals and military buildings” of the Parliamentary Assembly
(adopted by the Bureau of the CC-PAT on 9 May 2001)
- congratulates the Parliamentary Assembly on drafting and adopting this text, which was a most useful contribution to the Campaign “Europe: A Common Heritage”;
- notes that it raises matters important to all member states, and illustrates aspects of the issues of standard-setting, identification, conservation, management and promotion common to the cultural heritage as a whole;
- wishes to develop co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly in the field of cultural heritage, especially in the field of standard setting and, if possible, at the early stage in preparation of reference texts;
- proposes that the European Heritage Network (HEREIN) be utilised as a means of disseminating case studies and exchanging good practice in these fields;
- recommends that it be drawn to the attention of the CLRAE, given its emphasis on the importance of the role of local and regional, as well as national, authorities;
- supports the Recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly subject to the following specific observations:
- endorses this timely Recommendation on good practice, which is relevant to all historic buildings in public ownership and which conforms to its general advice concerning the integrated conservation of the built heritage, contained in its reference texts;
- emphasizes a number of additional points concerning paragraph 9 of the Recommendation:
.before deciding to vacate an historic building or site, public bodies should consider the feasibility of adaptation, or alternative uses within the public estate, subject to the constraint of preserving its architectural and historic significance;
.marketing of redundant public buildings should take place as soon as it is clear that they will be redundant, wherever possible before they are vacated, to reduce their exposure to the risks of deterioration and theft to which empty buildings are prone;
.national and local authorities, in marketing such redundant public buildings, should seek to achieve the best overall return to taxpayers, consistent with all relevant policies, particularly those concerning social, cultural, environmental, urban regeneration and, of course, cultural heritage preservation objectives, rather than primarily seeking the highest financial return;
.historic sites and groups of buildings should normally be marketed as a package, subject to a planning strategy for the whole complex, so that elements with little market value are cross-subsidised by those with greater value or potential for appropriate development for new uses;
.local authorities, in full consultation with heritage administrations, should integrate these sites, especially those in urban areas, with their spatial development and planning strategies at the earliest possible stage;
- believes that such good practice is already being applied in a number of member states;
- agrees that further encouragement would be desirable, specifically endorsing the proposal for an international conference, and asks member states to consider sponsoring and organising such an event.