Open access peer-reviewed chapter

The Implementation of Sustainable Development and Protection of Cultural Heritage at Different Levels of Spatial and Urban Planning: A Case Study of the Republic of Serbia

Written By

Nebojša Stefanović and Nataša Danilović Hristić

Submitted: 31 May 2021 Reviewed: 24 June 2021 Published: 17 August 2021

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.99056

From the Edited Volume

Heritage - New Paradigm

Edited by Daniela Turcanu-Carutiu

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The starting point in this paper is the position that spatial and urban planning has a key role in sustainable development and the protection of cultural heritage. The planning method used in areas of cultural heritage differs depending on the type and level of the spatial plan. It is possible to identify aspects of protection and sustainable development in plans, with the protection of cultural heritage dominating in practice. Research was carried out on a case study of three spatial plans at different levels, which both in terms of their methodology and content make up the planning system for the protection and sustainable development of cultural heritage in Serbia. The comparative analysis of the plans includes three aspects: protection, the sustainable development of cultural heritage, and the integration of cultural heritage into the planning and protection of landscapes. The implementation models of the spatial plans were considered. The main conclusion of the paper is that the concept of protecting cultural heritage has not evolved into a system of comprehensive and adequate planning for its sustainable development, nor is it sufficiently integrated with the planning and protection of landscapes. The paper provides guidelines for improving both the methodology of spatial planning and the concept of the sustainable development and protection of cultural heritage in spatial plans.


  • Cultural heritage
  • spatial plan
  • protection
  • sustainable development
  • landscape
  • implementation

1. Introduction

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Cultural heritage is situated in both natural and semi-natural environments, as well as in highly urban environments, where various activities can accelerate the transformation of the area and have a negative impact on the quality and use of the cultural heritage. Therefore, spatial development policy is crucial in protecting, managing and increasing the value of such areas, primarily through the adoption and implementation of appropriate planning solutions and measures. In addition, the interaction between different sectoral policies and the coordination of their territorial impacts is important.

These generally accepted positions point to the key role of spatial and urban planning in the sustainable development and protection of cultural heritage. With these starting points, the authors use spatial plans as the research subject in this paper, analyzing the methodology of their development and content. The hypothetical assumptions of this research are that the method of planning in an area of cultural heritage differs depending on the type and level of the spatial plan. Furthermore, it is possible to identify aspects of protection and sustainable development in the plans, with the protection of cultural assets clearly dominating in planning practice. Finally, the hypothetical assumptions are concluded with the authors’ views that the protection and the development of cultural heritage are not integrated with landscape planning, and that the aspect of implementation is insufficiently addressed in plans.

One of the basic principles of sustainable spatial development is the principle of increasing cultural heritage stock as a development factor [1, 2], which includes increasing the value of cultural heritage. This is one of the most significant contributions to economic development and the strengthening of regional identity, achieved by means of increasing the attractiveness of sites for investors, tourists and the public. Spatial development policy should contribute to the integrated management of cultural heritage, based on the idea of the development process of protection and conservation, while respecting the needs of modern society. Many countries in Europe have monuments that follow the traces of different schools of art and artistic movements, which requires the development of a common approach in conservation, restoration and use, initiating programs of “great cultural routes”. In many countries, there are types of cultural heritage that, due to historical changes, events and changes in borders, do not belong to only one but to a larger number of nations, language communities and religious groups, some of which no longer live in those regions. Spatial development policy must preserve and respect the memories of each nationality, language community and religious group, which have created a specific type of cultural heritage.

International documents adopted in the last decade [3] which refer to the protection, planning and management of cultural heritage emphasize a contextual approach that considers the expansion of the object of protection, from individual monuments to wider spatial units. They underline the need for integrating conservation, management and planning strategies for historic urban areas with development and planning documents. In addition, the concept of protecting areas of cultural heritage and their surroundings is closely connected to the issues of planning and protecting landscapes, with special significance given to the integration of landscape development into spatial planning and other sectoral policies, as well as the implementation of integrated policies aimed at the protection, management and planning of areas of cultural heritage.

Based on the above, it seems that the current procedures for protection and planning with regard to cultural heritage can and must be improved, particularly concerning the development aspects of protection, implementation, coordination with other sectoral policies and others. The analysis of previous experiences and the possibility of improving the process of spatial planning in the field of cultural heritage are the main goals of this paper.


2. Literature review

Consulting the most recent scientific literature, i.e., papers published in the last five years, the authors consider that the greatest preoccupation is on themes related to planning within protected natural areas, while studies covering the relationship between planning actions and restrictions related to the protection of cultural and historical heritage are scarce. On the other hand, it is clear that this topic is by no means exhausted and requires further analysis, especially from the aspect of developing sustainable tourism and strategies for actively protecting and promoting valuable monuments.

Some studies concentrate on the topic of the cultural landscape as the broadest concept: “Cultural landscapes are poorly inventoried and evaluated in protected natural areas. But there is a novel procedure to assess cultural landscape features and their cultural values in the major protected areas. After identifying a set of culturally modified land cover types and habitat types the GIS-based survey, with a set of 12 cultural attributes (involving cultural heritage values, traditional land uses and aesthetic quality) indicators were scored to assess these “cultural values” in each site. Gradient maps were produced to express an initial nation-wide site ranking profile. Heatmaps help link instead of solely rank culturally valuable sites that are in proximity to each other, showcasing site clusters of outstanding value. These analyses help define the level of “culturalness” of each site based on human-modified landscape and habitat types and provide a baseline review of cultural values in protected natural areas. This screening-level survey identifies the protected areas that may require special attention for managing cultural elements-of-diversity” [4].

Other authors focus on the use of modern GIS technologies for displaying locations and their overlapping areas of interest and restrictions, as well as for tracking the number of visits: “New technologies are used in mapping not only of heritage locations but also about visitation and expressed interest” [5]. Massiveness certainly brings profit, but it reduces the quality of the experience, so it is necessary to change the concept and approach: “Visitor management planning is a new concept, tool and strategy of sustainable tourism and ecotourism. The importance of this concept is in the new approach to tourism in natural and heritage protected areas of the country, which means implementing a completely different philosophy of tourism” [6].

It is the number of visits that has become a key factor for some locations, because the excessive crowds resulting from the huge interest of tourists, so-called “overtourism”, causes negative effects, and instead of contributing to the presentation and sustainability of valuable monuments, it leads to its degradation [7]. The authors cite a number of examples and offer recommendations for overcoming such situations. One of the causes of excessive tourism can be cruising destinations, if the distribution of visitors is not properly dosed. On the other hand, tours on the Danube Corridor can be seen as having great potential as an opportunity, which has contributed to the strategic planning of 9 new locations for passenger ports, in addition to the existing 5, primarily in the immediate vicinity of cultural and historical sites: “In the Podunavlje area in Serbia, significant attractions are located in vibrant urban centers such as Belgrade and Novi Sad, with seven fortresses from north to east downstream, including Bač, Petrovaradin, Beograd, Smederevo, Ram, Golubac, and Kladovo (Fetislam). There are also 21 archeological sites, the most significant of which are the Vinča and Lepenski Vir sites from prehistoric times, along with the city of Viminacium, Emperor Trajan’s road, bridge and stone board with inscriptions from the Roman period. Apart from these landmarks, two national parks (Fruška Gora and Ðerdap), several other parks, special nature reserves, nature monuments, and areas with significant characteristics are situated in the surrounding areas and are protected areas” [8].

Participation of the public and stakeholders in the planning process itself, and the harmonization of the needs of contemporary life and development of tourism with the limitations arising from protection regimes are also significant issues: “Most studies on community participation in tourism planning only advocate the importance of the concept and/or identify barriers without articulating the required actions or strategies to actually promote community participation. Six strategies emerged as major prerequisites to achieve full and active community participation in tourism planning associated with protected areas are: public awareness and education; capacity building; creation of linkages; use of appropriate participation methods; involvement of appropriate local community organisations and decentralisation and coordination of relevant management organisations” [9]. Proper implementation of the participation procedure and transparency of the planning process are the guarantee of quality implementations of plans in the future [10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. The general conclusion is that some global topics, as well as practical experience, can be used with certain adjustments to the situation and systemic frameworks in the Republic of Serbia.


3. System of sustainable development and protection of cultural heritage in the Republic of Serbia

The basic framework for the protection and sustainable development of cultural heritage in the Republic of Serbia is determined by the Law on Cultural Property [15] and the Law on Planning and Construction [16]. In accordance with the Law on Cultural Property, cultural heritage is made up of objects and creations of material and spiritual culture of general interest, which are under appropriate protection. They are divided into movable and immovable cultural heritage. Depending on the physical, artistic, cultural and historical characteristics, immovable cultural heritage is: cultural monuments (buildings/architectural objects or units), whole cultural and historical spatial units (part of an urban or rural settlement in which there are multiple cultural assets), archeological sites and landmarks (space related to an event or person of significance in history).

According to their significance, they can be: uncategorized cultural heritage, cultural heritage of great importance and cultural heritage of exceptional importance. Cultural heritage of exceptional importance has one of the following characteristics: special significance for the social, historical and cultural development of the people; it testifies to crucial historical events and personalities; it presents unique examples of the creativity of its time; it has a great influence on the development of society, culture, technology and science; or it has exceptional artistic and esthetic value. Cultural heritage of great importance has one of the following characteristics: it is significant for a certain area or period; it testifies to the phenomena or conditions of social, cultural and historical development; it testifies to significant events and prominent figures in history.

When an architectural object is declared as immovable cultural heritage, its protected environment is determined, which has the same protection status as the object itself.

These elements indicate the dominant aspect of protecting cultural heritage. However, the issue of their sustainable development (presentation, use), spatial aspects and integration with other activities and functions in space are determined by the Law on Planning and Construction. As basic principles in the arrangement and use of space, the law defines the protection and sustainable use of immovable cultural heritage, and the preservation of customs and traditions, as well as the specifics of the landscape.

The system of planning documents consists of the spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia, regional spatial plans and spatial plans for special purpose areas adopted at the national or regional level, as well as the spatial plans of local self-government units and urban plans adopted at the local level. Each of the listed plans in the hierarchy must be harmonized with the higher order plan (wider area).

The spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia is the basic planning document for spatial development, which has a strategic development function, and contains measures for the protection, arrangement and improvement of cultural heritage (scale of graphic attachments 1: 300,000). Regional spatial plans are prepared for larger spatial units of an administrative character and are focused on regional development goals and projects (scale of graphic attachments 1: 50,000). Spatial plans for special purpose areas are prepared for areas of national interest that require a special regime of organization, arrangement, use and protection of space, and especially for areas of cultural and historical units and environmental value. Their specificity is that they can contain all the detailed elements of urban plans (different sizes, up to 1: 1,000) and that they are directly implemented by applying the rules of arrangement and construction, with the possibility of resolving property relations if necessary.

Bearing in mind the basic elements of this system, the authors conducted research on a case study of three spatial plans which in terms of their methodology and content make up the planning system of protection and sustainable development of cultural heritage in Serbia.

Further, the paper presents only some of the key elements that indicate the aspect of protecting immovable cultural heritage and its surroundings in plans, while the analysis included the entire spatial plans and the documentation on which their development was based.


4. Analysis of the sustainable development and protection of the cultural heritage in spatial plans

4.1 Spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia from 2021 to 2035

The Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia from 2021 to 2035 [17] concerns the entire territory of Serbia, which covers 88,488 km2. As one of the important aspects of spatial development, it deals with cultural heritage. According to the available information of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments from 2020 [18], it consists of a total of 2592 immovable cultural assets of various types and significance (Table 1, Figure 1).

Importante Cultural assetsExceptional importanteGreat importanteUntategorized tultural assetsTotal
Cultural monument15551215662233
Spatial cultural/historieal unit11284786
Arclieological site1825151194

Table 1.

Immovable cultural assets in Serbia by type and category in 2020.

Figure 1.

Thematic map of the protection of immovable cultural heritage in the spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia from 2021 to 2035. Source: Spatial plan of the republic of Serbia from 2021 to 2035 – Draft, Ministry of Construction, transport and infrastructure, April 2021.

In addition to these, there are 12 sites (or 6 entries) under UNESCO protection in Serbia: Stari Ras medieval complex of monuments and Sopoćani Monastery, 4 medieval monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija (Visoki Dečani, Patriarchate of Peć, Bogorodica Ljeviška, Gračanica), the remains of the Felix Romuliana Palace (Gamzigrad) and three sites of medieval tombstones known as the Stećak tombstones. In addition, 11 more sites have been suggested for entry: 1 monastery, 3 national parks and 1 nature reserve, 1 archeological site, 1 historical location, 1 settlement, 1 fortress, 1 rare natural phenomenon, and one cultural belt (the Danubian Limes).

The general aim of spatial development in the field of the protection, arrangement and use of cultural heritage is the affirmation of cultural heritage as a valuable resource for sustainable development and as a factor of national and regional, urban and rural identity. Some of its specific objectives are the development of an integrative and territorial approach to the protection, arrangement and sustainable use of cultural heritage as well as the introduction of a typological approach, and the characterization of space at the level of areas, settlements and smaller units.

This spatial plan treats cultural heritage as an inseparable part of the living environment (natural and created), seeing it in correlation with its immediate environment and the way it fits into the functions that meet the needs of modern users. The following are recommended: applying the concept of protection in urban planning, introducing contextual analysis and valorizing building stock, and the spatial audits of individual locations. In order to preserve the identity of urban and rural settlements in Serbia, it is necessary to protect, present and affirm the material remains and influences of various civilizations that inhabited the Balkan Peninsula (Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and modern European civilizations, including the socialist period).

Bearing in mind that this is a national planning document that is indirectly implemented through other spatial plans, this plan defines a set of guidelines for the lower levels of planning.

Guidelines for cultural monuments - chronological and topographic gaps should be a priority in the valorization and revalorization of cultural monuments which, perhaps more than other immovable cultural heritage, provide a cross-section of complex civilizational trends in the area. Their preservation, study, restoration and popularization will be performed in a coordinated and integrated manner through the process of spatial and sectoral planning (in tourism, the protection of cultural monuments, etc.).

Guidelines for spatial cultural/historical units - when determining spatial cultural/historical units and their treatment in planning documents, it is necessary to respect the criteria of scientific assessments with regard to the artistic, cultural, historical and other values of the immovable cultural heritage that belong to the unit. Alongside the protection, arrangement and sustainable use of cultural heritage, it is necessary to include categories in accordance with international recommendations and standards [19, 20], such as: historic buildings and ensembles; urban and rural settlements/historic towns and villages; agricultural, industrial and technological properties; military properties; cultural landscapes, parks and gardens; cultural routes; burial monuments and sites; modern heritage, etc.

Within the current planning procedures, it is necessary to valorize the wider environment of cultural heritage in order to determine the space that is relevant for experiencing and presenting it. In that sense, it is necessary to protect the appearance, scenery, spatial configuration of the entire area, landscape and units that belong to the protection zones. Cultural heritage can be spatially connected by defining cultural areas and cultural routes at the international, national, regional and local levels.

Guidelines for archeological sites - indicate an approach to site protection which must be adapted to the site’s specific characteristics. For sites in areas that are not developed, there is an option of implementing protection by preparing a planning document. No construction or buried infrastructure can be planned in these areas. Preventive archeological research is also recommended as part of the planning process in response to proposed development solutions that could jeopardize archeological resources. Preventive archeological research should also be carried out in order to identify and record elements of archeological heritage that would be abandoned and/or destroyed as a result of development, especially when it comes to the construction of dams, roads, railways and other similar structures.

Guidelines for landmarks - it is necessary to conduct a revalorization of both already identified landmarks and landmarks whose memorial and historical value is dominant. As traces of historical events, all immovable cultural heritage of this kind should be treated equally.

The concept of the protection, arrangement and sustainable use of landscapes can be added to the mentioned elements in the planned treatment of immovable cultural heritage. One of the key elements in this is the protection and sustainable use of natural resources, natural and cultural assets, and their connection in space (local, regional, national ecological and cultural networks).

Depending on the degree and type of modification, the dominant processes that control a given space, and the character of human influence on the landscape, the territory of Serbia is classified into natural and cultural landscapes.

Cultural landscapes are divided into rural and urban landscapes, depending on the character of the modification of the landscape structure, the predominant manner of land use, the network, the type of settlement and the population density. Rural landscapes, in a structural sense, show natural characteristics that are close to the landscape. They have a lower population density and extensive land use, and rural settlements are an organic part of the natural environment. Urban landscapes are completely modified natural or rural landscape that are formed and function in relation to the needs of the urban way of life. They are zones of urban development (metropolitan areas, agglomerations, urban centers of the development axis).

Cultural landscapes may belong to the following categories: (1) designed cultural landscapes; (2) organic and relict cultural landscapes; and (3) associative cultural landscapes that possess esthetic, symbolic and spiritual value for the human community.

The spatial plan further defines guidelines for achieving the target quality of rural and urban areas. In rural areas, sustainable development is based on recognizing, protecting and improving their specific character, existing value ​​and landscape capacities. In the development of spatial and urban plans, it is necessary to ensure: the preservation of the landscape pattern based on the specific composition and configuration, land use, the ratio of built and open space, regulation of construction and landscaping in accordance with tradition; an appropriate purpose of space and protection of the local identity; the integral protection of cultural and natural heritage and their adequate presentation for tourism, taking protection regimes into account; the affirmation and creation of the architectural identity of a settlement, based on the preservation and revitalization of traditional architecture, as well as on new construction that increases attractiveness; the formation of an ethno settlement as a museum of rural vernacular architecture, which is typical for the character of the landscape and its use for tourist purposes; prescribing morphological, ecological and landscape-shaping rules of arrangement and rules of construction.

The development of urban landscapes is based on the fact that these will continue to be the landscapes with the greatest dynamic of change. In the development of spatial and urban plans, it is necessary to provide: regulated construction and spatial planning in accordance with the target quality and character of the landscape, the specifics of the development of the urban landscape as a whole and development of individual settlements; directed expansion of urban settlements and planned construction in accordance with the demands of preserving cultural and natural heritage, the rational use of urban construction land and giving priority to urban renewal, recycling and construction within the already existing urban matrix; the preservation of open spaces and elements of nature in urban centers, the activation of abandoned and devastated spaces and the formation of a network of public spaces that connect natural and cultural assets.

4.2 Regional spatial plan of the Kolubara and Mačva administrative districts

The Regional Spatial Plan of the Kolubara and Mačva Administrative Districts [21] covers an area of 5,746 km2, i.e. an area of 14 local government units. One of its basic aims is to define the protection, preservation and presentation of cultural assets, in order for them to be included in the tourist offer and to establish a regional and local cultural identity.

In the area of the spatial plan a total of 219 immovable cultural assets are protected, of which 7 are of exceptional importance, 20 of great importance and 192 are uncategorized (of which there are 190 cultural monuments, 6 spatial cultural/historical units, 16 archeological sites and 7 landmarks).

Its main aim is elaborated through a number of specific objectives, such as: establishing integrative protection and cultural property management; undertaking urgent action to conserve, restore and revitalize the most valuable and most endangered heritage; determining and arranging the protected environment surrounding the immovable cultural heritage; integrating the protection and presentation of cultural assets in the development of the tourist offer of an area (transit and touring of cultural routes).

The basic planning commitment is the adequate protection of cultural heritage, which includes taking general measures. For archeological sites - categorizing the most valuable sites; more efficiently protecting cave archeological sites within the integral protection of natural areas of river canyons; infrastructural equipping and arranging the space covered by archeological sites; establishing archeological parks for individual sites; and determining the zones of archeological sites of regional significance.

For cultural monuments - complete technical protection, along with the renovation of individual buildings; preserving the basic properties and constructive, stylistic and typological characteristics, especially of buildings of sacral and technical architecture; presenting cultural monuments without disturbing their cultural and historical properties; recording and valorizing immovable cultural heritage, with priority given to valorizing vernacular buildings, commercial buildings, technical culture buildings and newer urban architecture; recording, valorizing and determining cultural monuments dedicated to the liberation wars of the Republic of Serbia, primarily during World War I; bringing sacral cultural monuments to an exclusively sacral purpose and liturgical needs; etc.

For spatial cultural/historical units - revalorizing and determining the categorization of individual units, as well as re-examining the validity of the boundaries of the wider protection zone for the old bazaar (City of Valjevo); implementing measures for the technical protection of a whole village (Bebića Luka), remediating and reconstructing buildings of vernacular architecture, with the introduction of modern construction and architectural elements that do not violate the integrity and authenticity of the buildings or the whole unit; defining the degree of reconstructive and remedial interventions and conservation conditions for the technical protection and presentation of buildings within individual cultural and historical units; defining restricted traffic zones and pedestrian zones in urban areas; etc.

For landmarks - intensive and systematic research and documenting of landmarks, memorials, cemeteries and tombstones; identifying commercial users; stimulating the construction of a complex within the area of a landmark to which endangered objects of vernacular architecture would be transferred; removing unplanned objects in the wider protection zone of the landmark; etc.

In addition, the basic planning commitment is to adequately present and affirm the immovable cultural assets as generators of tourism and overall development. The plan singles out particular heritage and areas that should enjoy special treatment, regardless of their current status of protection. This refers to the characteristic objects and traditions that are part of the architectural heritage - vernacular architecture (design elements, building materials, method of use), traditions and the intangible associations connected with them.

A special role in the integration of a comprehensive tourist offer is played by the possibility of forming “cultural routes” which will present immovable and intangible cultural heritage, and make connections with other types of tourist offers. Two cultural trails of international importance are planned, one through the towns of Sabac and Loznica and the other which partly follows the course of the Drina River. In addition, the plan identifies potential cultural routes of national, interregional, regional and local significance, such as the routes insurgents took during the First and Second Serbian Uprising, routes of battles and victims during the First World War, rural life through time, old mining routes and more.

This plan does not define more detailed measures, rules of arrangement or construction in the vicinity of cultural heritage, neither does it define any significant elements regarding the implementation of these solutions.

4.3 Spatial plan for the special purpose area of the landscape of outstanding features: Ovčar-Kablar Gorge

This spatial plan [22] covers a total area of 97.5 km2, i.e., the Ovčar-Kablar Gorge landscape of outstanding features (protected natural heritage) and the Ovčar-Kablar Monasteries (22.8 km2 of protected area, 74.7 km2 of unprotected area).

Unlike the previously analyzed plans, which were prepared for administratively determined areas and in which the protection and development of cultural heritage is only one of many aspects, the following are the specific focus of this spatial plan:

The Ovčar-Kablar Gorge landscape of outstanding features, protected as a natural asset, with a level III protection regime on an area of about 1,700 ha and a level II protection regime on about 550 ha within six separate spatial units;

The buildings and surroundings of the cultural monuments of great importance (monasteries) and other cultural/historical heritage within the unit of the Ovčar-Kablar Monasteries (future spatial cultural/historical units);

Spaces with the purpose of: (1) tourism, recreation and sports, especially paragliding on Ovčar Mountain; (2) integral presentations of the most attractive areas, especially the Zagrađe meander zone of the West Morava River, which is considered to be a center of cultural, natural and tourist potential.

In the area of the spatial plan, in the Ovčar-Kablar Gorge, there are 11 shrines (nine active monasteries), which is why it is often called the Serbian Mount Athos. Four monasteries have the status of established cultural monuments, which are categorized as immovable cultural heritage of great importance.

It is envisaged that the sustainable development of the special purpose areas will be based on the protection, improvement and use of natural and cultural heritage, the development of tourism, sports and recreation and the functional integration of the protected area and the wider environment.

This ensures the permanent and integrated protection of the buildings and surroundings of cultural monuments and other cultural and historical heritage, as well as their traffic and infrastructural arrangement and equipment, the creation of other spatial conditions for their presentation to the public, and the development of religious tourism.

The spatial plan analytically determines the space for declaring the future spatial, cultural and historical unit of Ovčar-Kablar Monasteries as immovable cultural heritage. It establishes measures of protection within three regimes that are spatially identified as: level I protection regime (strict protection) – courtyard of the cultural monument, with a total area of about 1.12 ha; level II protection regime (ambiental protection) – the courtyard and surroundings of the other monasteries, with a total area about 66.66 ha; level III protection regime (general protection) - the remainder of the Ovčar-Kablar Monasteries unit, with an area of about 2,211.22 ha.

The main measures in the level I protection regime are: banning the construction of facilities, except for the reconstruction, extension and maintenance of monastic housing and auxiliary facilities, technical protection, restoration and maintenance of church buildings, and the reconstruction and maintenance of energy and communal infrastructure; prohibiting other works, except for the appropriate landscape and horticultural arrangement, and protection from the harmful effects of water and landslides; controlled visits to church festivals and cultural events.

The main measures of the level II protection regime are: banning the construction of facilities, except for monastic farm facilities; the reconstruction and maintenance of traffic, energy and communal infrastructure; maintaining weekend facilities; the prohibition of works, except for agriculture, forestry, landscaping and protection from the harmful effects of water and landslides; conducting archeological, natural and other research; arranging and maintaining hiking and other walking trails; banning activities, except for church festivals, cultural events, controlled tourist visitor movement, hiking and cycling, limited and controlled motor vehicle traffic, etc.

The main measures of the level III protection regime are largely in line with the measures established for the level III protection regime for natural heritage, which include: banning the construction of facilities that may cause damage or destroy the material contents of the cultural heritage or may have adverse effects on the landscape features; banning the opening of quarries and the exploitation of mineral resources other than thermal waters and banning or restricting the use of other natural resources.

Archeological sites and buildings of vernacular architecture are an important segment of cultural heritage, and their properties, chronology and significance can be judged with certainty only on the basis of systematic archeological research or the appropriate research of their architecture and construction, as well as their cultural and historical features. For these reasons, detailed and systematic research of the overall cultural heritage of the protected area is recommended.

The cultural and religious tourism zone is formed by all of the monastery complexes with level I and II protection regimes, including the access roads, and the hiking, and bicycle paths that connect them. In the cultural and religious tourism zone, the reconstruction and equipping of the existing parking lots and construction of new ones on the access roads is planned, as well as equipping the local, forest and field roads with signs. For monasteries along the river, providing access from the water area should be considered, which can be done by setting up a pier for adequate vessels.

In the area of the monastery, which is covered by a detailed planning elaboration (Figure 2), the basic purpose of the space is religious buildings and complexes. This primary purpose also includes the detailed purposes of the courtyard and the monastery farm. Within the detailed purpose of the courtyard, there are temples, bell towers and monastery residences - residential buildings with accompanying auxiliary buildings. The detailed purpose of the monastery farm covers economic and agricultural buildings and areas of the monastery. The immediate surroundings of the monastery largely consist of monastery forests, in which no construction is allowed.

Figure 2.

Map of the detailed planning of the Blagoveštenje monastery. Source: Regulation on determining the spatial plan for the special purpose area of Ovčar-Kablar Gorge landscape of exceptional features (official gazette, No. 46/19).

Having these protection regimes in mind, the plan gives more detailed rules of arrangement and construction, which mostly refer to roads and infrastructure systems, while all further rules relating to cultural monuments are determined through conditions set by the competent protection institute.


5. Discussion on the implementation of sustainable development and protection for the cultural heritage in spatial plans

In order to consider the issues of implementing the sustainable development and protection of cultural assets in the spatial plans analyzed, the authors use and build on previous research on the implementation model for spatial plans [11, 12, 23], as follows:

  • The theoretical definition that the model of implementation of a spatial plan is a simplified representation of a set of related planning decisions on actions in the future, which reflects logical, functional and time coherent planning action, depending on the type and methods of planning;

  • The model of implementation has its own elements, which are determined by a set of planning actions in the broadest possible sense, starting from general decisions, through relatively firm target propositions, to very definite statements in terms of content, time and space. The elements of the model go beyond the plan itself as a document (phase of the planning process), and in addition to the mentioned planning elements, they also include “postplanning elements” defined by the plan (carried out later) and all the necessary elements of monitoring;

  • Depending on the type and method of planning, several types of spatial plan implementation models have been singled out, and the implementation model of spatial protection has been analyzed and applied in practice for the purpose of spatial protection.

According to the authors, the research presented in this paper has a special significance, because it refers to the issues of sustainable development and protection of cultural property that have not been subject to such analyses so far. Previous analyses of the implementation model have included protected areas of natural resources and water sources, but not protected areas of cultural heritage.

Furthermore, in their analysis, the authors thematically separate and analyze three aspects (Table 2), namely: (1) the protection of cultural heritage and its environment in a narrower sense (P); (2) the development of cultural heritage, i.e. primarily those elements related to the rules of their arrangement, presentation and inclusion in tourist activities (D); and (3) integrating the protection and development of cultural assets into landscape planning and protection (L).

Spatial PlansI Planning elementsII Post-planning elementsIII Monitoring eL
Dynamic frameworkMeasures and instrumentsParticipants (subjects)Monitoring systemEvaluation (indicators)Institutional and organzational aspects
Priority planning solutions (4 years)Medium-term and long-term stagesPlanning-programmingOrganizationalNormative-legalFinancial
1.Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia from 2021 to 2035P
2.Regional Spatial Plan of the Kolubara and Mačva Administrative DistrictsP
3.Spatial Plan for the Special Purpose Area “Ovčarsko-kablarska klisura”P
P – protection, D – development, L – landscape.

Table 2.

Elements of the implementation model for the protection and development of landscapes in the spatial plans analyzed.

The Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia has applied the largest number of elements of the implementation model, those relating both to protection and to developing cultural heritage and landscape planning (a total of 27 elements). The specificity this plan is the large number of recognized elements relating to landscapes from all three plans, as well as the definition of the monitoring elements that are missing in other plans. Therefore, it can be concluded that a general approach has been applied in this plan, which is justified having in mind that it belongs to the national level of planning.

In The Regional Spatial Plan for the area of Kolubara and Mačva administrative districts, the fewest elements of the implementation model were applied (a total of 17 elements). The specificity of this plan is that it does not integrate the protection and development of cultural heritage in the planning and protection of landscapes, that is, there is a complete lack of any elements related to the theme of landscapes. Elements of the protection and development of cultural heritage are equally applied in this plan. Since this type of plan is focused on the goals and projects of regional development, i.e. the regional approach to planning, further elaboration on all missing elements is possible and necessary through the local level of planning.

In The Spatial Plan for the Special Purpose Area of the Landscape of Outstanding Features Ovčar-Kablar Gorge, a combination of the implementation elements of all three aspects (a total of 21 elements) was applied. However, the fewest elements are related to the integration of cultural heritage in landscape planning and protection, and they refer only to the general strategic framework, general goals, and planning and program measures for implementation, indicating that these were not sufficiently considered. Elements that relate to the protection and development of cultural goods are relatively evenly distributed. This kind of approach to planning can be characterized as special (as indicated by the name and subject of the plan) and is determined by the need to protect and plan the development of both the protected natural area and the future protected area of cultural monuments.

After analyzing all three plans, the basic conclusion is that general planning elements (strategic framework, goals, planning solutions) are dominant, that there are fewer post-planning elements (dynamics, implementation measures), and that there is a marked lack of elements related to the implementation of monitoring. Further analysis in this direction is not necessary, as it would be largely focused on the legislative framework, procedures and assessment of the quality of the plans, which is not the subject of this paper.

In the opinion of the authors, the most important conclusion concerns the relationship between aspects of protecting cultural heritage, its sustainable development and its integration into planning and protecting landscapes. Out of all these elements recognized in the plans, most concern the protection of cultural heritage, of which there are 31, followed by the elements of development (rules of arrangement, presentation and tourism), of which there are 23, but only 11 elements concerning the integration of cultural heritage in landscape planning and protection. This points towards the basic conclusion of the research, that protecting cultural assets and their environment in the narrower sense dominates the planning practice of Serbia, which is in itself justified and necessary. However, this does not sufficiently consider and plan for the sustainable development of cultural heritage, because there is insufficient elaboration of elements that would indicate the rules of construction and spatial planning in their environment, along with their unification and further planning development integrated with tourism (cultural routes, tourist areas, etc.). This is even more pronounced when considering the aspect of integrating the protection and development of cultural heritage into the planning and protection of landscapes, which is not developed in the practice of planning in Serbia. Indeed, it is considered only in a general and declarative manner, and only in individual cases.


6. Conclusions

Alongside the starting point that spatial (and urban) planning is of key importance for the sustainable development and protection of cultural heritage, this paper aimed to, based on the analysis of previous experiences, point out the need and possibilities for further improving the spatial planning process.

The fact is that in the current practice, cultural heritage is not clearly articulated as a development resource, and the connection and harmonization of policies for protection, arrangement and use of cultural heritage has not been achieved, especially in the case of the cultural landscapes and areas mentioned here. The Law on Cultural Property is not sufficiently harmonized with international recommendations, and does not recognize categories of the cultural landscape. The plans mainly include data on the number and category of cultural assets, as well as measures for their protection, obtained from the competent protection services.

The case study of three spatial plans confirmed the basic hypothetical assumptions of the research, that the methods used to plan areas of cultural heritage differ depending on the type and level of the spatial plan. The plans identify aspects of protection and the sustainable development of cultural heritage, and also in part their integration with landscape planning, but with obvious important shortcomings.

A key conclusion was reached based on this analysis, namely that there is no dominant and developed concept of protecting cultural heritage that has evolved into a system of comprehensive and adequate planning for its sustainable development. Therefore, in the coming period, it is necessary to improve planning methods and techniques in order to fully consider the sustainable development of cultural heritage in spatial plans. The first step in this can be the detailed planning and definition of all of the necessary rules for the arrangement and construction of space (urbanistic rules) in the vicinity of cultural heritage (protected or wider), the application of which would enable the construction of traffic and infrastructure systems, tourist facilities and infrastructure, and even those elements which reinforce the very aspect of protection from new activities in the environment. This would enable adequate presentation of cultural heritage, and the spatial connection and definition of cultural areas and cultural routes at the international, national, regional and local levels.

Such spatial planning would be a really key instrument in the implementation of European policies, which emphasize a contextual approach and expansion with regard to the subject of protection, from individual monuments to wider spatial units, as well as the need to integrate conservation and protection strategies with development and planning documents, and others.

In addition to the above, it can be further concluded that the lack of integration between protection policy and the development of cultural heritage in the planning and protection of landscapes is even more pronounced. It is interesting to note that the analysis indicated that this type of integration is only found in the Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia, i.e., at the national level of planning. The planning and protection of landscapes are not considered in other spatial plans. This further raises issues and needs for improvement, not only with regard to planning, but also legal regulations that should make integrated aspects of protection and development of cultural assets mandatory in landscape planning.

Based on the examples analyzed here, one gets the impression that in practice only the integration of the protection and development of cultural heritage with the protection of natural heritage has been truly achieved, that is, the integration of different aspects of protection.

Finally, all the above findings presented by the authors in this paper need to be further researched and scientifically shaped. The shortcoming of this research could be its small scientific sample of three spatial plans. With an increase in the number of spatial plans analyzed, i.e. the number of cultural assets and the area where they are located, it is certain that the research results would be more precise and significant. Indeed, that is the imperative of the planner in the period ahead.

Finally, in the opinion of the authors, this analysis of models and elements of implementing plans also highlights those general shortcomings in the plans that need to be eliminated and solved by improving planning methodology. This relates not only to the issue of the protection and sustainable development of cultural heritage, but also to numerous other aspects and subjects of planning (the economy, traffic, settlement networks, regional development, rural development, etc.). It especially refers to the concretization of planning solutions, determination of priorities, measures and instruments of implementation, and in particular elements for monitoring the implementation of spatial plans. The more precisely defined the implementation framework of spatial plans, the greater their role in integrating the protection and sustainable development of cultural heritage with other aspects of development.


Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest.


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Written By

Nebojša Stefanović and Nataša Danilović Hristić

Submitted: 31 May 2021 Reviewed: 24 June 2021 Published: 17 August 2021