Liverpool’s World Heritage Site still at risk!

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The Council must use more than warm words to ensure that the UNESCO World Heritage Site is preserved for generations to come.

Liverpool Lib Dems Culture Spokesperson, Cllr Carole Storey is demanding that the Council do more to preserve the World Heritage Status which was awarded when the Lib Dems ran the Council. Cllr Storey said,

“the report to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which meets in Bahrain next week, recognises that progress is being made with stronger planning frameworks relating to this site in particular and the City as a whole with its new development framework.

However, it cannot recommend that Liverpool be removed from the list until a revised planning application for Liverpool Waters is submitted by Peel Holdings and accepted by the Council.

This unique status for Liverpool of a World Heritage Site in a working commercial district has been put at risk by the attitude of Mayor Anderson who for 6 years maintained that the status was ‘just a plaque on the wall in the Town Hall’. Last year he changed his mind and we have currently staved off a decision to delist Liverpool by the skin of our teeth.

Tellingly, Liverpool’s is the only threatened status in the developed world with almost all the other ‘at risk’ sites being in War Zones particularly in the Middle East.

The Mayor must do more to get Peel Holdings effectively to the negotiating table with the council and produces a plan which creates employment in the North Docks area but also preserves the employment which arises from the cultural heritage in the City of which the World Heritage Site is the Jewel in the Crown”

WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add

Paris, 28 May 2018 Original: English / French

UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION

CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE

Forty-second session Manama, Bahrain

24 June – 4 July 2018

 Item 7A of the Provisional Agenda: State of conservation of the properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

 

EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA 

7.     Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 1150)

 Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2004

 Criteria (ii)(iii)(iv)

 

 Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger 2012-present

 

 Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

The proposed development of “Liverpool Waters”

 Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

In progress

 Corrective measures identified

In progress

 Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

 Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/documents/

 

 International Assistance

Requests approved: 0

Total amount approved: USD 0

For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/assistance/

 UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

 Previous monitoring missions

October 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2011: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2015: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission

 

 Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

  • Governance: Lack of overall management of new developments
  • High impact research/monitoring activities: Lack of analysis and description of the townscape characteristics relevant to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and important views related to the property and its buffer zone
  • Legal framework: Lack of established maximum heights for new developments along the waterfront and for the backdrops of the World Heritage property
  • Social/cultural uses of heritage
  • Buildings and development: Commercial development, housing, interpretative and visitor facilities
  • Lack of adequate management system/management plan

 

 Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/

 

 Current conservation issues

On 31 January 2018, the State Party transmitted a state of conservation report, which is available at

 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/documents/, as well as a proposed Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and a set of corrective measures.

 

Following dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, the State Party transmitted on 26 April 2018 a revised draft DSOCR and set of corrective measures. The report and the revised draft DSOCR provide information on the following issues:

  • A proposed interpretation and communication strategy focused on positive stories of heritage-led regeneration and on raising awareness of the benefits of World Heritage status on tourism, the economy and well-being;
  • Adoption of the Management Plan by the Mayor’s Cabinet in 2017;
  • Development of a height (‘skyline’) policy and proposed review in 2018-2019 of the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for inclusion in the draft Local Plan;
  • A draft of the Local Plan expected to be submitted for public examination in May 2018;
  • Continued efforts by the State Party to work in partnership with Liverpool City Council (LCC), Historic England, and developers to ensure that planning decisions are informed by Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA);
  • Creation of a Mayoral Task Force of independent experts to provide advice that will assist in avoiding the removal of the property from the World Heritage List;
  • Commitment of all stakeholders and increasing engagement of civil society, in particular Engage Liverpool and Merseyside Civic Society;
  • Additional measures taken to reinforce planning permission procedure, including required neighbourhood masterplans detailing development briefs that re-set maximum heights for individual plots and measures to ensure the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and heritage assets are protected and enhanced including views from, within and to the property;
  • The neighbourhood masterplan for Princes Dock submitted to LCC for approval and the masterplan for Central Dock currently under preparation and being guided by the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL)

The report indicates also that in the opinion of the State Party, the developments within Liverpool Waters to date have not caused harm to the OUV and that Peel Holdings (the Liverpool Waters developer) will not fully implement the illustrative masterplan that accompanied the 2013 planning consent. The report further underlines that no planning permissions for developments that may have a negative impact have been allowed other than the outline consent for Liverpool Waters, which have been guided by the 2009 SPD to be revised in 2018.The DSOCR seeks to ensure that corrective measures that prevent potential harm in the future to OUV are put in place.

 Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The January 2018 DSOCR and its revision (April 2018) following ICOMOS Technical review (March 2018) offer a significant improvement in approach and direction relative to previous draft DSOCR iterations. The DSOCR outlines overall attributes of the property, which contribute to its OUV, and acknowledges the importance of their protection, as well as the significance of the context of the property and its Buffer Zone. Seven objectives are set out as the ‘Desired state of conservation for removal’, followed by 10 proposed corrective measures, together with a timeline for their implementation and proposed progress indicators.

It is promising that Peel Holdings (Liverpool Waters developer) has recently confirmed to LCC that there is no likelihood of the scheme coming forward in the same form of the Outline Planning Consent (2013- 2042), and a new master planning process has started taking heritage considerations into account including HUL approach.

The proposed DSOCR provides a clear indication of intent by the State Party; however, as the State Party has itself foreshadowed, the DSOCR and corrective measures are not yet complete and therefore not in a form that might be considered for adoption by the Committee, as requested in Decision 41 COM 7A.22. Specifically, the current draft DSOCR does not yet incorporate sufficient specific commitment regarding development controls (including specific view line and skyline controls) and reduction to the existing outline planning permission to remove the threats to the authenticity and integrity (and therefore to the OUV) of the property. The DSOCR, as currently proposed, relies heavily on future guideline documents, which are still in preparation, namely, the Local Plan, the Neighbourhood Masterplans, the height (‘skyline’) policy, and the proposed revision to the SPD. Therefore, in order to carry out a full assessment of the adequacy of the proposed DSOCR, it is necessary to assess the content of these documents and to establish a clear commitment by the State Party to limit the quantity, location and size of allowable built form, as specifically requested in Decision 41 COM 7A.22.

In order for the World Heritage Committee to consider approving a final DSOCR, the State Party should consider an alternative process that involves: 1) defining first the specific desired outcome to which the Local Plan, the height (‘skyline’) policy, the SPD and neighbourhood masterplans could then be aligned and, 2) that these documents be then reviewed together with the proposed DSOCR. Those documents would need to be reviewed and agreed by the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS before they are endorsed by the relevant State Party agencies and adopted by LCC. Furthermore, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its previous request to the State Party to adopt a moratorium for new buildings within the property and its buffer zone, until the DSOCR is completely finalized and approved.

 Draft Decision: 42 COM 7A.7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7A.35, 38 COM 7A.19, 39 COM 7A.43, 40 COM 7A.31, and 41 COM 7A.22, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Recalls that it has repeatedly expressed its serious concerns over the impact of the proposed Liverpool Waters developments in the form presented in the approved Outline Planning Consent (2013-2042);
  4. Acknowledges the increasing engagement of civil society in the care of the World Heritage property and its status, in particular the organization “Engage Liverpool”;
  5. Although noting that the State Party has proposed a draft Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), including a set of corrective measures, a timeframe for implementation, as well as indicators; also notes that comprehensive assessment of the proposed DSOCR by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies is not feasible at this stage, as the DSCOR is not yet complete and relies on the content of additional documents, which are yet to be prepared by the State Party, including the Local Plan, the revised Supplementary Planning Document, the neighbourhood masterplans, and the height (‘skyline’) policy;
  6. Further notes that Peel Holdings (Liverpool Waters developer) has recently confirmed to Liverpool City Council that there is no likelihood of the scheme coming forward in the same form of the Outline Planning Consent, and that Peel Holdings is undertaking a comprehensive review of the scheme and drawing up new neighbourhood masterplans taking full account of heritage considerations and recorded commentary by the World Heritage Committee;
  7. Reiterates its previous request to the State Party to adopt a moratorium for new buildings within the property and its buffer zone, until the Local Plan, the revised Supplementary Planning Document, the neighbourhood masterplans, and the height (‘skyline’) policy are all carefully reviewed and endorsed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, and the DSOCR is completely finalized and approved by the World Heritage Committee;
  8. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, the Local Plan, the revised Supplementary Planning Document, the neighbourhood masterplans, and the height (skyline) policy, or any other relevant document, for preliminary examination by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  1. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2019 a revised DSOCR and a report on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019 and, in this context, recalls its position expressed in Decision 41 COM 22 – Paragraph 11, in case the State Party does not:
    1. Provide substantive commitments to limitation on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form,
    2. Link the strategic city development vision to a regulatory planning document,
    3. Submit a fully-complete DSOCR and corrective measures in a form that might be considered for adoption by the Committee;
  1. Decides to retain Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) on the List of World Heritage in danger

 

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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