Impact world heritage status on the New Dutch Waterline

The New Dutch Waterline is added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as an extension of the Stelling van Amsterdam World Heritage Site. Commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, we investigated the effects of the world heritage status on the assignments in the National Environmental Vision (NOVI). The results of this impact analysis, together with the advice of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), were reason for the government to submit an application to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

The New Dutch Waterline

The New Dutch Waterline is a defence line that spans 85 kilometers and consists of 45 forts, 2 castles, 85 machine gun casemates, numerous concrete shelters and more than 100 military military sluices and water engineering works. This makes the line the largest National Monument in the Netherlands, but also one of the largest Dutch construction projects ever, which arose over several centuries.

Current heritage protection: impact of world heritage status

Our research into the impact of World Heritage status consists of a several components. First of all, we looked into the difference between the current protection and the protection with the status of world heritage. Accordingly, our research showed that the New Dutch Waterline in current Dutch legislation and regulations is fully protected against developments that detract the value of the heritage. The actual laws and regulations with World Heritage status will therefore remain the same as in the current situation. It is estimated, however, that once the New Dutch Waterline is given the World Heritage status, rules applied by the authorities involved will be followed more consistently and strictly.


The impact of the world heritage status on the NOVI tasks

We then investigated to what extent this difference has an impact on the NOVI priorities and what this means for the action perspective. The spatial developments were examined in more detail on the basis of literature research, design research and workshops with stakeholders - working in different parts of the waterline and at different policy levels. The workshops with stakeholders were organized around three pilot areas: the northern part of the New Dutch Waterline around Weesp-Naarden (Atelier North), the part around Utrecht (Atelier Central) and the southern part of the line near Woudrichem (Atelier South). These design workshops provided insights into opportunities and challenges in both utilizing and protecting this heritage. Finally, general guidelines and recommendations have been formulated for each strategic assignment of the NOVI. An estimate of the additional costs and revenues as a result of the World Heritage status has also been made.

Research results

The outcome of the research is that the impact of the World Heritage status is manageable, or either neutral or stimulating. Particularly for tasks such as the energy transition and urbanization, extra effort is required. For other tasks, the world heritage status actually provides an added value or extra impetus; this applies in particular to having an attractive and healthy living environment and the strengthening of a business climate.


For this assignment we worked together with Land-id.