Princes Dock CGI
The UN body says the city's development proposals threaten heritage sites

Liverpool moves to rescue World Heritage status

Dan Whelan

The council is proposing “corrective measures” such as introducing further planning policies to protect and extend heritage sites, in an attempt to cling on to its special heritage designation, which is under threat from governing body Unesco.

Liverpool – a Maritime Mercantile City – was awarded World Heritage Status by Unesco status in 2004 and was added to the United Nations heritage body’s list of protected sites.

However, at its annual meeting in Baku last June, Unesco warned Liverpool that it could strip the city of its designation due to concerns over the impact of approved developments such as Peel L&P’s £5bn Liverpool Waters and Everton FC’s proposed stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Both schemes threaten the “authenticity and integrity”of the city, according to Unesco, which has since placed Liverpool on its “sites in danger list”.

The council says almost £3bn of investment has gone towards upgrading the area in the past decade, as it strives to achieve a balance between the need for development and conservation.

The city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, who set up an independent task force to forge a positive debate with the UK Government and Unesco, has been outspoken on the topic in the past saying that certain developments are more important than the heritage status.

A draft report from Liverpool City Council, called Desired State of Conservation, outlines actions the council could take to retain the special status, and is due to be submitted to Unesco this month.

The report proposes:

  • Writing a fresh management plan for the World Heritage Site
  • Reviewing developments in the Princes Dock and Central Dock area and continuing to lower the height of projects when compared to the taller Liverpool Waters outline planning permission granted in 2013
  • Introducing regulatory planning documents that provide clear, legal guidelines to protect properties within the World Heritage Site zone
  • Reviewing the World Heritage Site boundary with a view to enhancing and extending the site
  • Developing a skyline policy for tall buildings as proposed in the city council’s Local Plan
  • Providing clear urban design guidelines as proposed in the Local Plan
  • Setting up a new trust to manage the World Heritage Site property
  • Developing and implementing a World Heritage Site communication strategy, building on the existing WHS ‘Hub’ at the RIBA North Centre

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “This draft plan shows very clearly how much Liverpool has listened to Unesco’s concerns around our North Docks and the lengths we have gone to use their guidelines to help shape their future.

“Liverpool’s maritime heritage is a fundamental part of our city and a great source of pride. A phenomenal £3bn has been invested by the public and private sector to improve our World Heritage Site. The truth is it’s never been in a better condition and is a world away from when we got the status in 2004.”

Everton south stand

Everton FC’s proposed stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock

Liverpool’s cabinet has been asked to endorse the report when it meets on Friday. A decision on the status is due to be made when Unesco meets for its annual session in June.

Darran Lawless, development director at Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters, said: “Liverpool Waters will breathe new life into an area of the city’s redundant docks previously without public access with huge benefits for the wider city region.

“The development has a huge amount to offer and will help to secure the best future for the city, ultimately impacting positively on both the economy and people who live, work and play here.”

If Liverpool was to lose its status, it would become only the second European site to have had the designation removed after Dresden Elbe Valley, which had its Unesco status stripped after it built a 2,000 ft bridge across the river Elbe.

Your Comments

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Quality of Peels development is poor, I mean seriously how bland is the crap going up in Princes dock?

By Princess Dock

Render at the top looks like an awful car-dominated environment with some towers sprinkled ad-hoc here and there.

By Anonymous

The day UNESCO put people forward for election on the Liverpool ballot paper and secure seats is the day is the day I’ll pay any heed to what they say.

They have no democratic mandate to dictate the city’s planning and economic development policy. Tell them to get stuffed.

By Sceptical

@Princess Dock better than anything being built in the NW currently, Lexington is stunning, would you rather we biult nothing ?

By Anonymous

….How many UNESCO sites are there in and immediately around the City of London? How vocal were they about the development there. One rule for one and all that..


Liverpool looks a lot lot better than it did in 2004 and now has a real momentum.Heritage is very important although so is progress and growth.

By Dock King

I interesting anonymous, I feel that Lexington is average at best…..can you expand on why you think its stunning?

By Princess Dock

The threat of withdrawal of the UNECO WH inscription has been going on for several years now… why is LCC only taking action now? It needs to make a decision what’s more important to the city’s economy: the inscription and the tourism kudos that comes with that, or lots of average development.

By MancLad


The WHS is about what you can’t even see

The 3 graces were built on old docks that were underground but then we didn’t have Unesco telling us derelict docks were world heritage


Always like to see personal comments, personally Princes Dock is tonnes better than the Knowledge Quarter stuff


Do not mind the towers …they are not great in their own right but the massing looks quite good…’s the bland building fronting the river which are very important and very poor quality…….but would love to see at least one high quality iconic building on the dock ….the proposed hotel looks ok …..but a decent tower on the one space available would be very welcome

By George

I think that this masterplan is more important than the heritage status. Liverpool is currently growing rapidly and I think that Liverpool should just go on with the masterplan instead of worrying so much about the pier head’s heritage status! Merseyside dererves a global metropolis with a much bigger skyline and airport!

By T

@Princess Dock the development will look much better once it is actually built – look at how terrible the Manchester Deansgate Towers looked on the renders! Now it looks like a beatiful skyscraper and perfectly fits the skyline. The Lexington looks incredible, to! Once its finished it will look amazing, so will the rest of the skyscraper developments! Imagine the Central Park area once it is finished – it will be futuritic and very impressive for visitors!!

By T

@Anonymous. A car dominated environment?? There’s one car in the whole image! The new residential developments at Princes Dock will hopefully bring vitality to the area and extend life further North along the Docks, giving people more reason to go there as it feels quite desolate at the moment. The new cruise liner terminal at the northern tip will certainly help. Princes dock has been developed ad hoc as the city’s economy dictated at the time but the future Liverpool Waters scheme will be a cohesive and well considered waterfront neighbourhood.

By Positive Thinker

Literally thought this was Salford Quays when I first saw the image

By Anonymous

A big problem to me,is that we will lose the world heritage status because unesco want to look like they are doing heir job, ( that’s why they stripped Dresden of theirs). The work will be carried out, we will lose the status and we will be left with an ugly Salford quays 2.0.

By George

The ship has sailed. Liverpool and Manchester have self mutilated themselves in favour of profit.

By Acelius

@Positive Thinker, to be fair, the lead image has changed since the article was first published. Originally it showed a dodgy aerial view CGI with dull grey buildings slapped with some green and a lot of road/surface car parking.

By Anonymous

Who were the two or more Princes who built the dock? And who the heck is Mr Bramley Moore? Or is it only I that cares so deeply? And these buildings are built for profit. If the investors do not care what they look like, we are stumped. Or what would be a realistic solution to ensure that PLACES are built and not just profitable functional blocks? Answers on a postcard to —

By James Yates

Liverpool Council are interested in greed not heritage,

By Anon

Too late to ‘save’ Liverpool. Much of the ‘heritage’ has already been destroyed in the name of progress and modernisation by the Labour dominated council vandals. Many of the older biildings are now dominated or swamped by hideous, grotesque structures. More wanton blight to come I suspect.

By Over the Water

Liverpool needs to get away from whs and break the status quo and get everything built.

By Michael McDonut

It`s always a joy to see bland ugly buildings being refused and Liverpool remaining beautiful. World Heritage Status has saved us from the nasty developers who`s only care is profit, and it has saved us from the build it now yimbies who don`t care what it looks like – as long as its development, some of whom don`t even live in Liverpool. If it wasn`t for our World Heritage Status, Liverpool would be a ugly generic city by now.

By Bixteth Boy

After the horse has bolted from this dire Council.

By John Smith

@Over The Water are you being serious!? All that Liverpool was 20 years ago was a ghetto! It was the Liver Building which used to be dirty along with run down city centre streets and was one of the worst places in the country. Now Liverpool has a bustling commercial district, it has properly maintained its historic buildings and added new, modern buildings. It is 2020, whether you like it or not and buildings happen to be glass blocks now – thats just the way it is!

Instead of just staying exactly the same, Liverpool needs to refurbish its wasteland docks for office space and leisure facilities in order to become a world-class, global city!

By T

I suspect there is something sinister about this coronavirus and its aimed at further stalling Liverpool waters.

By MmcDrama Queen

Wake up. We DO NOT WANT it rescuing we need development and JOBS.

By George

FAO Princess…. Well it’s not Salford is it?

By George

@T well said and spot on

By Anonymous

Does this mean there will be more Liverpool office’s?!?!

By Mary Woolley

I particularly admire the 10th built Infinity Towers in buffer zone of the World Heritage Site!

By Ol Hall Street

Wow.. Well I really hope Mr Anderson can get it right. Liverpool is proud of its Heritage and History… No I have not already said this please post…

By Jean Holmes