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Unesco: Chapman Taylor's Liverpool Waters would cause 'irreversible damage'


Unesco has attacked Chapman Taylor’s huge £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme claiming it would cause ‘irreversible damage’ to the city

A report (see attached) by the international watchdog said that the Peel Holdings-backed scheme north of the city’s Three Graces would lead to a ‘serious deterioration’ of Liverpool’s architectural and town-planning coherence and to a ‘serious loss of historical authenticity’.

The Unesco monitoring mission urged the developers, Liverpool City Council and English Heritage to meet up and thrash out a possible ‘adjustments’ to the current outline plans.

Wayne Colquhoun, chairman of the Liverpool Preservation Trust, said: ‘The council needs to take note of all the damning recomendations and insist this current planning application is withdrawn before it costs the city a million pounds in public inquiry.

‘We have said all along that it is Amsterdam that we should be looking to for inspiration and how they inherit a urban landscape that interacts with its historic waterways….and not Shanghai.’

Peel refused to comment.

Extracts from the report of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission

In terms of visual perception the redevelopment scheme will fragment and isolate the different dock areas, instead of integrating them into one, continuous historic urban landscape. The scheme, as presented by Peel to the mission team, does not reflect, nor evolve from the fragile and subtle yet significant heritage structures present in the dock areas; instead it treats the core and buffer zones very differently (in terms of building height), while introducing the same mass and typology throughout. This contradicts the meaning and function of the buffer zone.

The historic docklands to the north complement those to the south, putting the Three Graces centre-stage in this more or less symmetrical city profile. This has a historical reason also, as the Three Graces were indeed at the heart of shipping and harbour operations during the height of its glory, surrounded by dockyards and port structures. Shifting this profile to the north by introducing a secondary cluster of high-rise, with towers three times the height of the Three Graces, would destroy this profile, relegating the Three Graces to playing second violin, and thereby losing an important visual and historical reference to the city’s glorious past.


Previous story (AJ 13.07.11)

Unesco ‘extremely concerned’ by Chapman Taylor’s Liverpool Waters

Unesco’s World Heritage Committee has demanded Chapman Taylor’s huge £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme is refused planning permission

The international watchdog said it had ‘extreme concerns’ about the Peel Holdings backed scheme, in particular ‘the potential impact of its dense, high and mid-rise buildings on the form and design of the historic docks and thus on the outstanding universal value of the property’.

Unesco also said it intended to send ‘as soon as possible’ a monitoring mission ‘to assess planning procedures and the overall development strategies for the property’.

The report (see bottom) follows criticism about the gigantic proposals north of the City’s Three Graces from both CABE and English Heritage (AJ 19.05.11) and its findings have been welcomed by Wayne Colquhoun, chairman of the Liverpool Preservation Trust.

He said: ‘The idea to recreate Shanghai in Liverpool’s World Heritage Site is absurd. The City Council should tred very careful water here and understand the gravity of the situation - I’m sure this administration does not want to be remembered as the one that lost us our World Heritage title.’

However Frank McKenna of business group Downtown Liverpool in Business said he was ‘disappointed, but not surprised’, by Unesco’s report.

He said: ‘Ultimately, nobody wishes to see Liverpool lose World Heritage Status, but it is, in reality, little more than a vanity badge that adds absolutely no value to the city’s drive for economic development and investment.’

‘Liverpool is right to celebrate the past, but we can’t afford to live in it. If World Heritage Status is the price we have to pay to continue the regeneration of our city, then so be it.’    

Neither Peel Holdings nor Chapman Taylor were willing to comment.

118. Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom) (C 1150)

Decision: 35 COM 7B.118 - The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Expresses its extreme concern at the proposed development of Liverpool Waters in terms of the potential impact of its dense, high and mid-rise buildings on the form and design of the historic docks and thus on the Outstanding Universal Value of the

3. Notes that the independent Impact Assessment commissioned by English Heritage clearly sets out the significantly damaging negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property; Decisions report WHC-11/35.COM/20, p. 150

4. Also notes that the proposed development is not in compliance with the property Management Plan nor with the Liverpool Urban Development Plan;

5. Urges the State Party to ensure that these proposals are not approved, as failure to do so could lead to consideration of loss of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

6. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, as soon as possible, to assess planning procedures and the overall development strategies for the property;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the above, examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.


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  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-14124577

    Local BBC coverage

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  • http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2012/01/26/choppy-waters-ahead-for-peel-s-huge-5-5bn-skyscraper-plan-for-liverpool-99623-30199817/








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