Liverpool’s iconic World Heritage Status threatened again by council inaction

It is vital for our tourist offer that we preserve our World Heritage Status that protects these and other important buildings in Liverpool City Centre’s commercial district

Next week the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meet and on their agenda for the 8th time is a report on Liverpool’s World Heritage Status. Worryingly, our iconic status of a World Heritage Site is under threat once again because of inaction by the Council. This Status is not just a ‘plaque on the wall’ as Mayor Anderson has said so often, but is an important part of the branding that makes Liverpool a premier European city break destination.

None of the major issues have been addressed that we promised to deal with 2 years ago. The Council urgently needs to convert talk to actions to produce the reports and policies that are vitally needed to preserve the unique qualities of our City. It needs to look at its new building policies and its high buildings policies within the Zone and the buffer Zone which surrounds it.

This threat to World Heritage Status is particularly worrying at this time because of reports in the national financial press that Liverpool Waters ultimate owner, John Whittaker, is moving money around because of serious problems in the whole of the commercial and retail property market. Add to that the severe over supply of residential accommodation in the City Centre and we have a potential tsunami of problems building up.

In the meantime, we allow poor quality buildings to be built on Lime Street and are taking no action to prevent the deterioration of Heaps Mill, both sites being in the World Heritage Site Buffer Zone.

The Council must now produce all the plans that we promised last year and get Peel Holdings to produce a new master plan for Liverpool Waters because without a new plan the old one remains on the books.

Unless action is taken, we will lose this vital status this time next year.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee Meet next week and they state:

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

This is their draft decision for discussion

Draft Decision: 43 COM 7A.47

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined
  2. Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A,
  3. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.9337 COM 7A.35, 38 COM 7A.19, 39 COM 7A.43, 40 COM 7A.31, 41 COM 7A.22 and 42 COM 7A.7 adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively;
  4. Acknowledges the increasing engagement of civil society in the care of the property and its World Heritage status;
  5. Recalls its repeated serious concerns over the impact of the proposed Liverpool Waters developments in the form presented in the approved Outline Planning Consent (2013-2042) which constitutes an ascertained threat in conformity with paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Although noting that the State Party has submitted an updated and revised draft Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), notesthat comprehensive assessment of the proposed DSOCR by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies is still not feasible, as the approval of the DSOCR relies on the content of additional documents, which are yet to be prepared or finalized, including the Local Plan, the revised Supplementary Planning Document, the majority of the Neighbourhood Masterplans, and the Tall Building (skyline) Policy;
  7. Reiterates that the submission of a further draft of the DSOCR by the State Party and its adoption by the Committee should come prior to the finalization and approval of the necessary planning tools and regulatory framework and regrets that the alternative proposal of the Committee, expressed in Decision 42 COM 7A.7, for substantive commitments to limitation on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form, has not been followed;
  8. Although also noting that Peel Holdings (Liverpool Waters developer) reiterated its confirmation to Liverpool City Council (LCC) that there is no likelihood of the Liverpool Waters development scheme coming forward in the same form of the Outline Planning Consent, strongly requests the commitment of the State Party that the approved Outline Planning Consent (2013-2042) will not be implemented by Peel Holdings or other developers, and its revised version will not propose interventions that will impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including its authenticity and integrity;
  9. Expresses its extreme concern that the State Party has not complied with the Committee’s request 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 Tall Building (skyline) Policy are reviewed and endorsed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, and the DSOCR is completely finalized and adopted by the World Heritage Committee, and urges the State Party to comply with this request;
  10. Also regrets that the submission of Princes Dock Masterplan and changes to the Liverpool Water scheme to the World Heritage Centre took place after their adoption by the LCC, and expresses its utmost concern that these documents are putting forward plans, which does not ensure the adequate mitigation of the potential threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  11. Also reiterates its consideration that the recent planning permissions issued for the Liverpool Waters scheme and elsewhere within the property and its buffer zone, and the stated inability of the State Party to control further developments, clearly reflect inadequate governance systems and planning mechanisms that will not allow the State Party to comply with Committee Decisions and will result in ascertained threat on the OUV of the property;
  12. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020, as well as a DSOCR and corrective measures that could be considered for adoption by the Committee;
  13. Decides to retain Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) on the List of World Heritage in Danger, with a view to considering its deletion from the World Heritage List at its 44th session in 2020, if the Committee Decisions related to the adoption of the DSOCR and the moratorium for new buildings are not met.

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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1 Response to Liverpool’s iconic World Heritage Status threatened again by council inaction

  1. nigel hunter says:

    If the Mayor is an old fashioned socialist he would not want his ‘down trodden ‘city to be raised to a higher level cos that would mean his city is leaving his ideal World of a socialist paradise..Corbyn style.

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