Council hits back at World Heritage threat

Liverpool City Council has responded to a report from UNESCO's World Heritage committee calling for the government to refuse planning for Peel's planned £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme.

Liverpool could have its World Heritage Status withdrawn if plans are given the green light, UNESCO has warned.

The organisation is planning to send representatives to Liverpool in the autumn to look into the plans, which is being welcomed by Liverpool City Council.

Liverpool's waterfront was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.

Peel plans 14m sq ft of mixed-use development on 150 acres, including skyscrapers around the north of Liverpool city centre into the derelict dock areas adjacent to Princes Dock.

The scale of the proposed buildings and their potential to block views of the Three Graces on Liverpool's Pier Head are being objected by English Heritage, as well as the impact they will have on the dock's archeological remains.

Joe Anderson, leader of the council, said: "Liverpool Waters is an ambitious multi billion pound scheme which has the potential to transform the fortunes of North Liverpool, creating many thousands of badly needed jobs and a better quality of life for residents in our city.

"We believe it is perfectly possible to retain the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage site, while at the same time reflecting the growing needs of a thriving and developing city.

"At the moment, the area is a derelict eyesore which no-one can access. It seems to me perverse that this is deemed acceptable. Peel Holdings have come up with a hugely exciting scheme which maintains its heritage and brings it back into use for people to enjoy.

"I understand this decision was based on a report into which neither the city council nor Peel Holdings had an input, and therefore the committee may not have been in possession of the full facts and have knowledge of the safeguards which are being put in place.

"The Liverpool Waters application is still to be considered by the planning committee and, clearly its impact on the World Heritage Site will be given extremely careful consideration. The views expressed by English Heritage will be taken into account along with all other interested parties.

"We look forward to meeting with representatives of UNESCO and ICOMOS when they visit the city, and we believe a solution will be found that satisfies everyone."

Peel's scheme is one half of its plans for both sides of the River Mersey which includes Wirral Waters centred on the left bank of the river at the Birkenhead Docks.

Together the two schemes would total 32m sq ft of mixed-use development if built and could take decades to deliver.

Peel has planning consent for Wirral Waters and submitted plans for Liverpool Waters initially in October 2010.

Peel has carried out consultation events on its plans for the Liverpool side of the River Mersey and has previously stated it does not want the scheme to go through a public inquiry.

Both Liverpool and Wirral Waters were awarded enterprise zone status in the government's Budget in March.

The government said enterprise zones would benefit from tax breaks for inward investors and simplified planning rules.

Peel announced it would develop the Mersey Waters enterprise zone through a new development vehicle called Peel Waters.

Peel declined to comment when contacted by Place.

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