How to Coordinate Renovation of Real Estate — a Cultural Heritage Site

Submitting the minor restoration project to the Council for Cultural Heritage Preservation is necessary.
September 29, 2023
Shalva Giorgadze, lawyer, lawyer of JUST Advisors
For conducting any work on movable or immovable property classified as a cultural heritage site, permission from the Ministry of Culture’s Council is necessary. This consultative body meets twice a month and can review small-scale restoration projects. Let’s detail the documents required and the overall regulations governing heritage sites in Georgia.
At least four sites in Georgia are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and another 14 are candidates. However, the country holds many more unique buildings that represent cultural, artistic, aesthetic, ethnological, archaeological, historical, religious, memorial, and even technological value. Such a definition of protected sites is outlined in Georgia’s "Cultural Heritage Law.

Who Regulates and Accounts for Heritage Sites

The allocation of national monument status to specific movable or immovable property objects within Georgia is managed by the Cultural Heritage Preservation Council—an advisory body of the Ministry of Culture consisting of industry experts and public figures. Typically, monuments are classified under specific categories: archaeological, architectural, engineering, monumental, and so forth.

All properties designated as cultural heritage monuments are recorded in the state registry, where they are listed with basic information (a registry card) and, in some cases, a passport containing research data. The list of monuments is not publicly available, but it can be obtained from the Ministry of Culture. All registered sites are legally protected, including their surroundings.

Types of Protection Modes for Monuments

The protection structure for cultural heritage zones includes individual and common protection zones for each monument. At a minimum, the following protection modes apply to specific monuments:
  • Area for physical protection.
  • Area for visual protection.
  • Protective zone of historic development.
The area for physical protection is the territory surrounding the immovable monument, any action within which could physically harm the object or the adjacent land. This area is defined as the monument’s height multiplied by two (the radius cannot be less than 50 meters).
  • Activities prohibited in the physical protection area include those causing significant soil vibration or deformation,
  • storing chemicals, highly flammable or explosive materials,
  • constructing non-related protective structures,
  • planting certain types of plants that may damage the monument, among others.
The visual protection area lies beyond the physical protection area. Alterations in this area affect the historically formed surrounding environment of the monument or its complete perception. The visual protection area is limited to a radius of 150 meters, and similar prohibitions apply here to maintain the monument’s historical environment and perception.

Finally, the protective zone of historical development is the broadest area aimed at preserving the historically developed spatial and architectural environment and traditional building forms. The historical part of the city is regarded as a unified organism, including layouts, morphology, views, silhouettes of buildings, landscapes, and so on. Within this zone, all restoration, construction, and other works are regulated, and the goal of any action should be to bring the degraded urban fabric closer to its historical appearance, realizing the economic and cultural potential of historical construction.
Any work related to these monument types is prohibited without appropriate authorization from the city administration. The decision is made by the Cultural Heritage Preservation Council, which holds meetings twice a month.

Obtaining Permission for Renovation or Restoration

To obtain permission for work on a cultural heritage monument, a project plan for minor restoration work must be submitted to the Council. However, the document composition may vary depending on the scope of work.

For interventions involving only repairs, facade replacement (plaster, tiles, woodwork), and gutters' installation without modifying load-bearing structures, the project should include:

  1. Recent photographic material showing general views of the project site.
  2. Photomontage illustrating the proposed works outlined in the project.
  3. An explanatory note detailing the chosen methodology.
  4. A work plan and a schedule for the restoration process.
If the project concerns painting facade work, signage placement, spotlights, or advertisements, repairs, or replacement of engineering utilities, roofing, and gutters, without altering load-bearing structures, alterations to specific architectural elements (openings, stairs, balconies, decorations), or interior restoration, the project should contain:

  1. An explanatory note with a detailed description of the problem, outlining resolution methods, and justifying the chosen methodology.
  2. A site plan indicating the project site (scale 1:1000 or 1:2000).
  3. Recent photographic material reflecting general views of the site.
  4. Graphical material illustrating the works along with specified marks.
  5. Measurements of the part of the monument undergoing changes.
  6. Art historical research with a rationale for the works.
  7. A work plan and a schedule for the restoration process.
  8. Photomontage depicting the restoration process outlined in the project.
If you require a more detailed consultation on how to legalize the restoration of a cultural heritage monument, prepare the documents, and submit them for review by the Council, reach out to JUST Advisors!

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