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Liverpool's heritage bid is a site for sore eyes

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The headline 'Opposition mounting to Liverpool heritage bid' (AJ 4.9.03) suggests a popular campaign to prevent the success of the nomination, whereas nothing could be further from the truth.

As the World Heritage officer for Liverpool City Council, I can state that support for the nomination is overwhelming. The nomination is truly a partnership project, having representatives of Liverpool City Council, English Heritage, Liverpool Vision, the North West Development Agency, National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool Culture Company, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Liverpool Partnership Group, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, ICOMOS, DCMS, GONW, the Environment Agency, Liverpool Land Development Company, the Mersey Partnership and Merseytravel on the Steering Group. Furthermore a 'Pledge to support World Heritage Values' has been signed by Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, Liverpool Hoteliers and Conference Association and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others.

As part of the consultation process on the Draft World Heritage Site Management Plan, seven public open days have been held, and no one has expressed opposition to the nomination. Indeed, there are more than 700 signatures of support for the nomination.

During the recent Heritage open days week-end, the demand for seats on free coach tours of the nominated site exceeded supply.

Your editorial of the same issue - 'Compromise, not conflict, could hold the key to Liverpool's future' - more astutely acknowledges that Liverpool's distinctive historic environment must be a key driver in the sustainable regeneration of the city and, indeed, this is embodied in the objectives of the Draft Management Plan.However, the plan also positively promotes new-build on vacant sites and sites of inappropriate buildings, provided they 'conserve and enhance the significance of the World Heritage Site'. The Management Plan has been carefully drafted to seek an appropriate balance between conservation and sustainable regeneration to contribute to the social and economic development and quality of life of the whole community.

Inscription as a World Heritage Site is a great honour and with that honour comes a responsibility, which will mean that more attention must be paid to the quality, scale and context of new buildings, but it will not prevent new development. The nomination certainly adds weight to existing conservation legislation but does not introduce any new statutory powers. No development proposals have been refused solely on the grounds of World Heritage Site status.

In the Albert Dock, Rope Walks, the Collegiate, the Old Airport and the Matchworks, Liverpool has international exemplars of heritage-led regeneration that have contributed enormously to the city's renaissance.

World Heritage Site status gives no immediate guarantee of additional funding but raises the opportunities for both public and private funds. An application has already been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a Townscape Heritage Initiative for Buildings at Risk in the World Heritage Site and a decision is expected imminently. If successful, almost £12 million will be generated for essential works to repair historic buildings and create further icons of restoration.

The Draft Management Plan can be read online at www. liverpool. gov. uk.

John Hinchliffe, World Heritage officer, Liverpool City Council

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