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.”
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.