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UNESCO takes first steps to remove Liverpool's world heritage status

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Liverpool is facing the threat of losing its World Heritage Site (WHS) status due to the potential impact of Chapman Taylor’s controversial £5.5billion Liverpool Waters scheme

Yesterday at its annual meeting in St Petersburg Russia UNESCO slapped the city on its heritage ‘in danger’ list, a move which could lead to the eventual removal of its title.

Inspectors who visited Liverpool late last year drafted a report stating that ‘the proposed development of Liverpool Waters constitutes a potential danger to the World Heritage property’ and that there was the ‘the possibility of deletion of the property from the World Heritage List, should the current project be approved and implemented.’

The high-rise scheme for developer Peel, still needs rubberstamping by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles – the timescale for which remains unknown.

A Liverpool City Council spokesman played down the UNESCO move, saying it was too early to suggest the city would be stripped of its heritage title.

He said: ‘We believe that this decision is premature as the government has not yet determined whether the Liverpool Waters application can go ahead.

‘The city council is continuing to discuss the plans with the developers and other interested parties and have always firmly believed that Liverpool can retain its world heritage status while sensitively developing the derelict docklands.’

Liverpool’s world heritage status has repeatedly come under scrutiny since it was awarded in 2004.

In 2006 UNESCO investigated the possible ‘detrimental’ impacts of developments around the world-famous its Three Graces, including.3XN’s contentious million Museum of Liverpool building.

Mushtaq Saleri, of Liverpool’s Studio Three Architects, said: ‘It’s understandable given the investment, both financial and time, given towards obtaining World Heritage Status that there is concern over the possibility of losing it. The title matters, but does it matter more than investment?

‘Liverpool has still too many self-aggrandised commentators that are holding back the true nature and image of the city – it’s a place that should be good for business, and it’s a place that will always take pride in the amazing architecture that lives here. These two things can and should be compatible.

Frank McKenna of lobby group Downtown Liverpool in Business said:  ‘UNESCO says that the Liverpool waterfront will be “damaged beyond repair” by the Peel Waters scheme. This is nonsense. The regeneration of the docklands to the north of the city centre – currently little but wasteland – is an opportunity that Liverpool would be mad to hold back on. ‘

World Heritage Status is not a badge it’s an honour. Why would you want to lose it?

However Wayne Colquhoun, Liverpool Heritage Campaigner, said: ‘If Peel is serious about delivering - and not just selling on the planning permission – it has to be a custodian of history not wreckers of it. 

‘World Heritage Status is not a badge it’s an honour. Why would you want to lose it?’

He concluded: ‘Just as the image of Liverpool is changing in the eyes of the world those in power go and spoil it all.’

Other comments

Nick Howe, managing director of architectural visualisers Uniform: ‘It’s a good title to have and came at a crucial time in the city’s repositioning, but unless the council had conducted extensive qualitative research over the last few years to uncover the reason for visits to Liverpool, there’s no way of knowing it’s true impact.
Liverpool Waters is a key part of the city’s development economically, to build a strong city region, but it also plays a part in the evolution of the city’s skyline – keeping it dynamic. It’s a thriving ambitious city, not an historical relic.’






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