Liverpool World Heritage Status - UNESCO report

by Nick 9. February 2012 22:58

Is Liverpool’s World Heritage Status stifling development of the City?


In November 2011 UNESCO sent a team of inspectors to Liverpool amid concerns that the proposed Liverpool Waters development, submitted for Planning Approval by Peel Holdings, will have a negative impact on the World Heritage Site.


The Liverpool waterfront was awarded World Heritage status in 2004. It is one of 28 sites on the World Heritage list in the UK and 936 worldwide.


UNESCO have now published their report suggesting that the World Heritage site will be irreversibly damaged’ by the proposals, if modifications are not made to the submitted scheme. They seem particularly concerned that the high rise buildings to the North and the proposed Shanghai Tower will move the visual emphasis away from the Three Graces and overshadow the Heritage Site.


The City of Liverpool is justifiably proud of the World Heritage Status it currently holds and, no doubt, benefits from increased tourism as a result. However it is entirely possible that this status could restrict the City’s long-term development due to the intervention of UNESCO teams who have a limited understanding of the City.


Liverpool has already fallen victim to concerns over the impact of development on the World Heritage site. One Park West (Liverpool One), designed by world-renowned architect Caesar Pelli, was reduced in height and changed in proportion amid concerns that the building was too high and would impact on the World Heritage site. This significantly compromised the design of a building that had the potential to be a true landmark.  I’m sure that all those involved in the decision to adjust its proportions will look back with regret over a missed opportunity.


We should learn from this lesson and not let the same happen with Liverpool Waters. Peel Holdings are presenting Liverpool with its greatest opportunity in over a century.

The proposals represent a £6 Billion investment in Liverpool, £10 Billion when combined with the approved Wirral Waters, over a period of 30 years. The proposals will not only transform the area visually but will also create thousands of jobs. Peel has worked closely with Liverpool City Council Planning department and English Heritage to produce a scheme that all parties agree on. In the course of negotiations the scheme has already been reduced. Further compromise, as a knee jerk reaction to the UNESCO inspectors report, could result in a half-baked scheme and another missed opportunity for the City to have international impact.


The UNESCO report does not go as far as suggesting that the World Heritage Status will be removed if the proposals in their current form were approved. Surly the City should stand firm and support the Application without any further dilution.


Q. Will UNESCO remove the status if Planning is approved? A. Probably not.


Q. Would it matter if they did? A. Probably not - Liverpool will be more capable of standing on its own if the development goes ahead.


Q. Will Peel take their investment elsewhere? A. If they were forced to reduce the proposals further, would you blame them? 







Nick Belderbos

Feb 2012


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