A hiker with a map walks along a trail beside a ruined Roman wall.
People walking a section of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland (component of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site). © Historic England
People walking a section of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland (component of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site). © Historic England

Nomination, Inscription, Protection and Management

The ‘Tentative List’ and Nomination Process

As part of its obligation to identify properties that may merit World Heritage status, each State Party produces a ‘Tentative List’. This is an inventory of sites the State Party considers to potentially demonstrate outstanding universal value (OUV). As encouraged in the Operational Guidelines, the UK government, advised by an expert panel, examines and re-submits its Tentative List every 10 years. The next Tentative List will not be before 2033.

Once candidate sites for World Heritage status have been placed on the UK Tentative List, they may be invited to put forward a more detailed case for nomination. These submissions are then subject to 'technical evaluation' by an expert panel convened by the government.

Only properties that have made a convincing case that they meet the UNESCO criteria for inscription on the World Heritage List are taken forward to nomination.

As part of the Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List, State Parties that already have significant representation on the list are requested to slow down their rate of submission of further nominations. Recent UK practice has been to nominate 1 site every other year, excluding where a UK site is part of a transnational bid.


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Management of World Heritage

The Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention offer guidance on key issues, processes, and procedures in the application of the Convention. This includes procedures for inscription, protection, conservation, the granting of International Assistance under the World Heritage Fund, and the mobilisation of national and international support.

The Operational Guidelines require every nominated property to have an appropriate management plan or management system which specifies how the OUV of a property will be preserved (Paragraph 108). Together with legislative and planning measures, these plans form the protection and management system for WHS. It is recommended that they are reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they remain effective.

States Parties are responsible for implementing effective management for a property and for collaborating with property managers and other stakeholders.

Each World Heritage Site also has its own Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (SOUV), adopted by the Committee at the time of inscription or retrospectively. The SOUV expresses why the site is considered to have OUV and is the basis for protection and management of the site. SOUVs are particularly useful when assessing whether proposals for change will have a positive or negative impact on the World Heritage Site's OUV.

World Heritage in the planning system

Inscription of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO brings no additional statutory controls, but protection is afforded through the planning system as well as through the other national designations (listed buildings, scheduled monuments, sites of specific interest (SSSI) and so on) that cover elements, if not the whole, of the site. The heritage significance of a World Heritage Site (its 'outstanding universal value') will inevitably be reflected, at least in part, in the significance of any listed building, scheduled monument, SSSI, or other heritage asset that forms part of it. The planning controls that apply to any such elements within a World Heritage Site will be an important part of the recognition and protection of the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site.

World Heritage Sites are considered designated heritage assets under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Accordingly, great weight should be given to their conservation and substantial harm to (or loss of) a World Heritage Site should be wholly exceptional (Paragraph 200, NPPF).

The World Heritage Resource Manuals provide guidance on how all those involved in the care of World Heritage Sites can comply with the requirements of the Convention.

List of World Heritage in Danger

The List of World Heritage in Danger is a published record of World Heritage Sites experiencing serious and specific dangers. These are sites which require major operations for conservation and for which assistance has been requested under the Convention. Inscription to the List of World Heritage in Danger alerts the international community to the preservation needs of the site.

UK World Heritage Queries