What is it for ?
Inscription of the Mining Basin as World Heritage shows this territory in a new light, revealing its true historical and heritage values, which prove to be as unexpected as they are amazing. It’s a chance to leave behind the traditional clichés about the black country! This prestigious listing is a homage to mining history and those who wrote it. It must also be a source of pride for inhabitants and stakeholders today. Mining heritage and history represent values that have today achieved distinction worldwide, becoming assets to build the future of the Mining Basin.
Does being listed as World Heritage lead to funds for refurbishment and restoration of the sites listed ?
UNESCO only funds sites under threat. Inscription of the Mining Basin as World Heritage does not involve supranational subsidies. However it is an excellent springboard to leverage support from other sponsors – whether European, national or local – and a great asset for the cultural, tourist and economic development of the territory. While the site was first listed in 2012, protective measures and operations to safeguard the heritage had already been implemented long before then. One outcome of inscription is that greater care is lavished on restoring these sites, while excellence and quality are further encouraged in urban planning and architecture
What economic benefits does inscription bring ?
Inscription opens up a significant global window to the Mining Basin. As with all the sites listed in France and elsewhere, the Mining Basin can tap into a stronger image and greater renown. This will have a positive knock-on effect on tourism and the local economy, for towns and inter-municipality organisations across the territory and indeed region-wide. Providers of tourist accommodation, restaurant owners, camp sites, taxis, leisure centres are all involved. By projecting a dynamic, positive image of the territory, this international recognition helps boost its appeal to investors.
Does being listed as World Heritage lead to regulatory restrictions ?
UNESCO cannot pass legislation or draw up regulations instead of states. Being listed as World Heritage does not lead to supranational restrictions and thus there are no additional regulations. However, decision-makers do need to bear the elements listed in the scope in mind during urban planning to avoid being struck off the list. The World Heritage Committee struck the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman off the List in 2007, and the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany in 2009.
What is the management plan ?
It is a joint commitment made by the stakeholders and owners of mining heritage, underpinned by national and local regulations, to protect and sustain this heritage. It was already included in the candidature file, as an inscription prerequisite. This plan to manage the “post-inscription” period is compatible with the necessary economic and urban development. It now acts as the frame of reference to guarantee preservation of the mining heritage and the universal values on which the inscription is based.
Will the territory be frozen in time further to inscription ?
No. The World Heritage Convention does not aim to stifle World Heritage listed sites by turning them into open-air museums. The aim is rather to help them blend into the contemporary world. Over 1.2 million people live, work and travel in the Mining Basin. It is an inhabited, living territory! Since the last of the mines closed in 1990, the territory has changed and continues to do so, maintaining a careful balance between preserving heritage and implementing great projects to improve living conditions for the inhabitants and to galvanize the Mining Basin.
Is there a single contact in charge of inscription ?
The Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin Mission organisation has been managing the inscription and coordination since 1 January 2013, in conjunction with the relevant government departments. Its head office is in Oignies, on the 9-9 bis site. It is chaired by regional councillor Cathy Apourceau-Poly.
I live on a miners’ housing development. Can I renovate my house? Can I repaint the shutters, build an extension, plant a hedge or change the façade ?
Living on a housing development listed as World Heritage does not affect planning permission regulations for those wishing to renovate the exterior of their home. Tenants must ask the owners for permission. The owners must apply to the local council, which will grant or refuse planning permission in accordance with the local urban planning program (PLU). For homes located within 500m of a historic monument, the town will apply to the French architectural review board (Architecte des Bâtiments de France). Urban planning programs of towns within the scope are gradually taking inscription as World Heritage into account in their regulations in order to ensure that the urban architecture and landscape peculiar to the miners’ housing developments are preserved.
Why is the entire Mining Basin not included in the inscription ?
A clear definition of the scope was a prerequisite for filing for candidature. The entire Mining Basin could not lay claim to outstanding universal value in terms of quality, integrity and management. A certain number of choices had to be made, depending on demanding criteria, to explain and demonstrate the outstanding universal value of the Mining Basin. This in no way prejudices the value of Mining Basin heritage as a whole. The point of inscription as World Heritage also resides in the positive knock-on effect on all the towns involved in mining history, even beyond the scope strictosensu.
Which sites can I visit ?
Among the five major collieries, only the Historic Mining Centre in Lewarde is permanently open to visitors. However the other sites can be visited on appointment, via Tourist Information Offices or structures featuring on the interactive map such as the local centre for environmental initiatives “Chaîne des terrils”, the Lens-Liévin “Country of Art and History”, the heritage centre at Colliery 9-9bis, the Béthune-Bruay Tourist Information Office for the electricians’ housing development and the Porte du Hainaut Tourist Information Office for the Arenberg colliery