Council chiefs in Liverpool have hit back at suggestions that the city's World Heritage status is at risk as UNESCO officials have begun a three-day investigation into the impact of controversial new waterfront developments.
The Paris-based delegation from the World Heritage Centre arrives on 18 October to take a look at a number of schemes which could 'potentially threaten' the city's historic standing.
Among them are the contentious £65 million Museum of Liverpool building, by 3XN, and the Mann Island mixed-use development, by Broadway Malyan, ( pictured
) - both of which will sit next to the world-famous Three Graces.
Although the X-shaped museum building has already been approved, a decision on Broadway Malyan's scheme has been deferred until after the visit. If the heritage inspectors do not approve of the proposals, they could place the city on the 'in danger' list.
However, the council's top brass has played down claims that Liverpool, which is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2008, could be stripped of its much-coveted title altogether.
Warren Bradley, the leader of Liverpool City Council, said: 'World Heritage Status does not mean that development comes to a full stop - far from it, it is a spur to investment, but only for those developments which have a high-quality design.
He added: 'You cannot compare World Heritage status for a bustling, growing city like Liverpool with monuments like Stonehenge or the Taj Mahal.
'Liverpool has to move forward to thrive; we have to compete alongside other great European cities and create a dynamic and prosperous place in which to live and work.'
The UNESCO inspectors' report will be considered by the World Heritage committee in July next year.
Meanwhile, the Mann Island application is expected to go back before the planning committee on 24 October. by Richard Waite