Published On: Fri, Dec 12th, 2014

Schotte: “300 years of efforts caring for historic area Willemstad thrown away”

IMG_1583-1200x728WILLEMSTAD – The leader of the opposition party MFK, Gerrit Schotte, indicated in a press release that the conservation zone recognized by the UNESCO is interrupted with the decision to build a new hospital in Otrabanda.

“After receiving this recognition in 1997 by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in a session held in Napoli, today, in 2014, Cabinet Asjes, represented by the Minister of Urban Planning, Earl Balborda, is throwing away 300 years with their stubbornness to build a hospital right in the middle of Otrabanda,” said the leader of the opposition party in his press release.

Schotte said that he would understand if Otrabanda was the only place where the hospital could be built. “What this government is doing is breaking all rules. Besides the fact that the cost to build this hospital is much higher than what was previously planned, they are also breaking legal regulations, they are going against the Island Development Plan (EOP) and they are destroying the conservation zone of our world heritage. And the government is acting as if nothing bad is happening.”

The UNESCO committee declared in their paper on this issue, that they have fundamental concerns about the modification of the protected zone proposed by the government. The biggest problem of the modification is that the project does not fit architecturally in this zone.

The government even admits in their document Summary/Translation Modification Plan Buffer Zone Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbor, Curaçao, presented to the UNESCO, that they are failing with the following:

  • Legal Regulations
  • The building does not qualify in its Plot Layout;
  • The building does not qualify with its height;
  • The building does not qualify with its width;
  • The building does not qualify with the shape of its roof.

Also, the building does not fit neither comply with article 4 of the EOP, which is always the main tool used by the government against land owners who request a construction permit.

And finally, the new hospital will obstruct the view to our “Inner City”.

Instead of finding a more adequate location for the complex, the government proposed to UNESCO to adapt the buffer zone and take out the hospital area of the conservation zone. By doing this, they can evade the regulations of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

UNESCO clearly indicates in their advice that before deciding to build a new hospital in Otrabanda, the government should have done a heritage impact assessment, because this building will have an impact on the value and integrity of the world heritage status Willemstad has.

UNESCO also indicates that conform paragraph 103-107 of the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the zones defined in 1997, which were used to put Willemstad on the world heritage list, are such important zones that changes cannot be made to it. It can have consequences for the status of the city.

UNESCO advices on conserving the zone as it was approved in 1997 by the World Heritage Committee and to not make any changes to it. If the government persists in building the new hospital there, they must perform a heritage impact assessment first.

“While the government was waiting for UNESCO’s advice dated October 30, 2014, which everyone can see that it was negative, Minister Earl Balborda went ahead and issued a construction permit dated October 21, 2014 without taking into account the damage it is causing to Curaçao,” Schotte indicated.

Click here to download UNESCO's advice.


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