World Heritage

World Heritage

The view of the Tower of London from across the Thames

The Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan

World Heritage is the designation for places that are of ‘outstanding universal value’ to humanity and as such, have been inscribed onto the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

What is World Heritage?

The concept of World Heritage is at the core of the World Heritage Convention, adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1972.

There are currently 851 World Heritage Sites; examples include the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Acropolis and the Great Barrier Reef. There are 27 World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom. The Tower of London was inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 1988. Why is the Tower of London a World Heritage Site?

World Heritage criteria and the Tower of London

For a site to be included on the World Heritage List it must satisfy a number of criteria.  The Tower of London is considered:

  • to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time
  • to be an outstanding example of a type of building which illustrates significant stages in human history.

The most impressive and best-preserved medieval castle in any European capital, the Tower of London and its individual buildings are of outstanding architectural and artistic significance.

The Tower of London has also had a role in many events in world and British history and, since its foundation in the 11th century, has stood as a vital symbol of national identity.

What are Management Plans?

The purpose of the Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan is to provide an agreed framework for long-term decision-making on the conservation and improvement of the Tower. 

The Management Plan contains management objectives and a programme of action for the next five years.  

The Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan

The Plan was first put together in 2000 with the guidance of a Consultative Committee of experts and policy makers. The Plan was widely consulted on but not adopted because the swift change in development activity in the vicinity of the Tower highlighted the need for a review of the mechanisms to protect its setting.

In 2006, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee expressed concern about new development around the Tower and the inadequacy of planning policies to offer the level of protection that is expected.   An agreed Management Plan for the Tower is seen as a critical part of such mechanisms.

A new plan

The Management Plan has now been extensively updated to reflect the passage of time, the evolving planning policy framework and the greater emphasis on the setting of the Tower. 

You can download the Management Plan at the bottom of this page. Paper copies of the Management Plan can be obtained from the address below:

Rachael Smith
Conservation & Learning Department
Historic Royal Palaces
Apartment 21
Hampton Court Palace
United Kingdom


You can also download the minutes of the Tower of London World Heritage Site Consultative Committee below.

The Tower of London World Heritage Site defining its outstanding universal values

The Tower of London was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. There are 911 World Heritage Sites worldwide. These include such internationally recognised places as the Taj Mahal and natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef. World Heritage Sites need very careful management and protection.

Since 2007, UNESCO has asked new World Heritage Site nominations to include a ‘Statement of Outstanding Universal Value’. UNESCO now wants all existing Sites, including the Tower of London, to have similar statements.

Click here to view the current  SOUV, submitted to UNESCO

Downloadable Resources

Some files are provided in PDF format - you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.

  1. Click here to download Acrobat Reader
  2. Alternatively, Adobe offers a service for converting PDFs into HTML or plain text. Access this service here

    Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan
    (Adobe PDF, 3.15MB)

    Tower of London Local Setting Study
    (Adobe PDF, 8.61MB)

    WHS consultative committee meeting 05.05.11
    (Adobe PDF, 74.9KB)

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