Sevilla escapes UNESCO’s World Heritage black list

LAST UPDATED: 10 Jul, 2012 @ 18:48
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Sevilla escapes UNESCO’s World Heritage black list

By Eloise Horsfield

THE controversial Pelli Tower will not put Sevilla’s old town on UNESCO’s ‘danger list’, it has been decided.

The World Heritage Committee spent a full hour discussing the future of the 43-storey tower at a conference in Saint Petersburg in Russia on Tuesday.

Germany asked why UNESCO had not been consulted before construction began, while Columbia argued that the tower was beyond the protected zone.

Meanwhile Sevilla mayor Juan Ignacio Zoido argued that it would be legally impossible to stop construction and stressed the €300 million tower’s ‘full compatibility’ with the town’s World Heritage status.

Eventually UNESCO decided not to put the city on this year’s ‘danger list’, and rejected the need to halt construction of the tower – which will house the headquarters of Cajasol bank.

The Committee did however stress that Sevilla would only be excused if more legislation was introduced to stop skyscrapers being built.

The decision comes despite two UNESCO delegates concluding the tower had a ‘highly negative visual impact’ on Sevilla’s old town after visiting in January.

Their report said a solution needed to be found to ‘stop and rethink’ the project.

It added that the tower’s height – a staggering 178m – needed to be revised, describing its negative relationship with the river and other buildings around it, and the fact it was in a ‘particularly sensitive’ part of the town.

The Pelli Tower is less than a mile away from the trio of sites that give the city its World Heritage status in 1987 – the Cathedral, the Alcazar and Archivo de las Indias.

Around 30 of the tower’s 43 storeys are now complete.

The situation will be re-assessed in 2013.

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