Sore eyes at
Liverpool site loss

Unesco strips the city of its heritage status

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Liverpool city region mayor Steve Rotheram believes the loss of world heritage status for the city will not affect its lure for the millions who visit the area each year.

Last week Unesco stripped Liverpool of the title that has adorned its iconic waterfront since 2004 – making it just the third site to lose its status since the introduction of the list in 1978.

Unesco had been warning since 2012 that proposed development on the waterfront would endanger its heritage status. But Rotheram believes the city must balance the celebration of tradition with development.

Unesco’s decision is a “retrograde step”, he said.

“This was a decision taken on the other side of the world by people who do not appear to understand the renaissance that has taken place in recent years.

“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.”

‘Disappointing decision’

Liverpool was European Capital of Culture in 2008 and in 2019 was the fifth most visited city in the UK for international visitors. But Unesco singled out the Liverpool Waters scheme and plans for a new stadium for Everton FC as new developments that would damage the city’s waterfront.

Rotheram added: “This is a really disappointing decision, but I am confident that our city will remain a vibrant and attractive cultural destination and – as we rebuild from the pandemic – will continue to welcome millions of people to our city and wider city region.”

‘Brighter future’

Liverpool’s World Heritage Taskforce was also quick to criticise Unesco’s decision, saying: “We believe that the city’s achievements mean Liverpool had a very powerful case to remain designated.”

It said its heritage sites were in better condition than when Unesco made its award in 2004 as a result of money spent on them, but further investment was needed in the former dock areas because some north Liverpool communities had missed out on the city’s renaissance and remained in deprivation.

“Giving these communities and people a brighter future is critically important for the city. It cannot allow world heritage status to seriously constrain its ability to improve the economic prospects of its people.”

It added that the decision was “damaging” not only for the city, but the United Kingdom as a whole.

In a statement, Unesco said: “Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004 and on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2012 following concerns about the proposed development of Liverpool Waters.

Historical assets

“The project has since gone ahead along with other developments both inside the site and in its buffer zone. The Committee considers that these constructions are detrimental to the site’s authenticity and integrity.”

Chris Capes, director of development for Peel L&P, which is behind the Liverpool Waters scheme, said: “Unesco’s decision to remove Liverpool from its list of World Heritage Sites is very disappointing, particularly given the considerable investment that the city has put into protecting and improving its heritage sites in recent years.

“Without the World Heritage Site status, however, Liverpool’s rich history remains and Pier Head, the Three Graces and the city’s many other fantastic historical assets will continue to attract visitors in their millions.

“Regeneration for this part of the city is vital and, like our partners across the city region, we are focused on delivering it – creating new homes, commercial space, amenities, public realm, leisure facilities and key infrastructure on previously disused brownfield land.

“We will show the world that regeneration and the protection of Liverpool’s heritage can happen together.”

Photo: Bramley-Moore Dock, where Everton FC’s new ground is proposed to be built. (Xinhua/Shutterstock)

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