The agency has recommended the city be stripped of its World Heritage Site designation next month, claiming Peel L&P’s £5bn regeneration project will “irreversibly damage” the site.
The announcement comes after local leaders pleaded with Unesco to defer its decision on whether or not to let the city keep its title, which has been in the offing since Liverpool Waters was given planning approval in 2012.
Peel’s project will see 130 acres of former docklands redeveloped over the next 20 years, and much of the site falls within the World Heritage Site and buffer zone. The WHS currently covers 340 acres including the Three Graces, Albert Dock, the Stanley Dock and Duke Street conservation areas, and the city’s commercial and cultural quarters.
Liverpool City Council’s decision to grant Peel consent for the project prompted Unesco to place the city on its ‘endangered’ list in 2012. The UN body was concerned about how overdevelopment of the waterfront could impact the protected heritage assets. Peel L&P was contacted for comment.
Nine years on, Unesco has finally moved to delete Liverpool from its list of World Heritage Sites, claiming that not enough has been done to protect the zone and block potentially harmful development. Its recommendation is subject to a vote by Unesco, followed by final approval to strike the site off the list, next month.
“The implementation of the Liverpool Waters project and other large-scale infrastructure projects on the waterfront and northern dock area of the property and its buffer zone have progressively eroded the integrity of the site,” Unesco concluded in a report published yesterday.
In addition, the agency said that the approval of the Liverpool Waters project and subsequent development have resulted in “serious deterioration” and that the site” has lost characteristics that determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List”.
The city council claims more than £710m has been invested in upgrading 119 heritage assets within the site and its buffer zone, and Unesco did concede that there had been “some successful projects” aimed at protecting the Liverpool’s World Heritage Status.
But overall, Unesco said there had been a “lack of commitment” to protect the World Heritage Site by deciding not to block the Liverpool Waters project or Everton’s £500m stadium project at Bramley-Moore Dock.
“The approved planning application for a new football stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock adds to the ascertained threat on the site’s outstanding universal value,” Unesco said.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayer Steve Rotheram
“Places like Liverpool should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating left behind communities – and the wealth of jobs and opportunities that come with it.
“As a host of regional leaders reiterated last week, much work has been done to protect and restore heritage sites and we have made it clear that we do not want to lose world heritage status. I would urge the committee to heed our call to defer any decision and take up our invitation to visit us and see what we are doing collectively, rather than taking their decision sat around a table a long way away from the place it affects.”
Former Liverpool City Mayor Joe Anderson
“Eight years of futile talks, people who have never seen city, sitting in judgement. Liverpool is not a museum it’s a vibrant growing city in need of jobs and investment. The city will thrive without [the WHS] badge.”
Housing Minister Robert Jenrick
“Disappointing move by Unesco. Liverpool demonstrably has world class heritage sites and Unesco should support imaginative urban regeneration, not fight against it.”
City Mayor Joanne Anderson
“We want to engage with the committee members and invite them to fully appraise all that has been achieved since the committee last met in 2019, and to review all that the council is seeking to achieve in the next 12 months.
“We think deletion would be hugely unfair given all this body of work has not yet been assessed by the committee members and we need them to see Bramley Moore Dock with their own eyes – physically or virtually.”