Unesco puts Liverpool on danger watch

Unesco's World Heritage Committee has placed Liverpool on the official list of World Heritage in Danger due to the proposed construction of Peel Group's Liverpool Waters.

In a forthright statement issued on Tuesday, Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) criticised Peel's proposed 'massive redevelopment of the historic docklands north of the city centre,' which has planning consent from Liverpool City Council.

The statement went on: "The Committee contended that the development will extend the city centre significantly and alter the skyline and profile of the site inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004. Furthermore, experts argued that the redevelopment scheme will fragment and isolate the different dock areas visually.

"The Committee warned that if the project is implemented, Liverpool may entirely lose the outstanding universal value for which it was given World Heritage status. The site includes six areas in the historic centre and docklands is a testimony to the development of Liverpool as one of the world's major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries.

"It bears witness to the important role of the city in the growth of the British Empire as a major port for the mass movement of people, e.g. slaves and emigrants from northern Europe to America. Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management and the site features a great number of significant commercial, civic and public buildings, including St George's Plateau."

The Committee earlier on Tuesday removed two sites from the List of World Heritage in Danger following improvements in their conservation: the Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan and the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.

Peel maintains its development is good for Liverpool and the heritage lobby does not understand the commercial needs of developers to build on a sufficient scale to generate profit.

The issue of whether Liverpool's World Heritage status has attracted tourists on its own during the city revival over the past decade has divided opinion locally. Critics of World Heritage status say it is not worth keeping and has not done much to promote Liverpool. Fans say the heritage of the waterfront, docks, cathedrals need such regulation to ensure design quality and respect in future development.

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Are we really that bothered if the world heritage status is lost? Consider this:- if Liverpool had world heritage status in the 18th Century, then it would have been unlikely to have played an important role in the industruial revolution and servicing the British empire as development would have been stifled! We need to move the city on. I am, by no means, fully supportive of Peel in this as no doubt their usual heavy handed and non-compromising approach as inflamed rather than settled tensions between UNESCO and the City. We hope that once this matter is settled either way, Peel actually get on and deliver on their vision.

By historian

There may be a case for a large scale development but the design is frankly terrible and would look better in downtown Dallas than Liverpool. The point is now that Peel have their planning approval they can officially ‘start’ work on one small part of the scheme and sit on the rest of the land for decades and build when the time is right which may actually be never. When councillors in the future start demanding for something to be done with these ‘eyesores’ their hands are tied as law is with Peel.

By James McMillan

Losing "World Heritage Status " will not make any difference to Tourism whatsoever. At least Peel have a "Vision" for this area which has lain derelict for 40 years.The people of this City want Development, Jobs and Commerce.Peel should be supported and commended for trying to bring this forward,which can only be for the longterm good of the City .

By Stanley Parkend FRICS, mbe,cbe, EFC

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