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Liverpool mayor rejects UNESCO plea over city's heritage site

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Joe Anderson has rejected UNESCO’s proposal for a two-year moratorium on new development at the city’s World Heritage Site, saying it would stifle growth

UNESCO said it recommended enforcing a two-year ban on new schemes within the World Heritage Site at the Liverpool waterfront last week, according to the Guardian.

The heritage body said that work on the site should be ‘strictly limited to repair, reuse and maintenance, in addition to small scale projects’.

However Anderson said the restriction on developing certain parts of the city centre would put jobs and multimillion-pound investments at risk, sending out the message that the city had ’shut up shop and was closed for business’.

Anderson told the Guardian: ‘Part of the problem that we face is if we go out and say to people: “Please come and invest in our city,” but then say: “You can’t put in a planning application for two years” – then our growth is going to suffer.’

He added that he would be writing to inform UNESCO the city would not be complying with the recommendation.

He said: ‘What I am saying in my letter is that we have a track record of protecting heritage and that speaks for itself. We value the heritage status but we can’t let it stifle the growth of our city. People … come here for so many reasons – our culture, yes, our buildings, and because we are open and developing.’

The city, which received World Heritage Site status in 2004, was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger for the fourth year running. The site has been under threat since 2012 due to the potential impact of Chapman Taylor’s controversial £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters high-rise scheme, which is backed by developer Peel.

According to SAVE Britain’s Heritage, it is the only World Heritage Site in Europe outside of the Kosovo war zone to be on the roster.

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE, told the AJ: ’This decision validates SAVE’s campaigns and concerns about Liverpool and the unnecessary continuing threats to its internationally recognised heritage from inappropriate development.’

She added: ‘We’re calling on Liverpool City Council to take these worldwide concerns seriously and support efforts for the refurbishment and renovation of the many historic buildings in Liverpool under real threat. The council and DCMS must adopt a strategic approach to safeguarding [the city’s] world heritage status.

’We continue to be extremely concerned.’

Committee papers published for the meeting note that the council has not yet managed to ‘eliminate the threats’ to its site, highlighting the problem of ‘mid-and high-rise buildings’ at the Liverpool Waters development.

SAVE also argues that the Lime Street redevelopment plans – in the ‘buffer zone’ of the World Heritage Site – are a further danger to the site’s future status.

futurist cinema

futurist cinema

Source: SAVE

The Futurist Cinema on Lime Street, Liverpool

Billings said that the scheme was ’an example of the sort of development that UNESCO is highlighting in its concerns about threats to Liverpool’s World Heritage status’.

’As far as we’re concerned the council signed up to the responsibilities that go with the honour of being a World Heritage Site.’

Plans at Lime Street include the demolition of a row of buildings including the former Futurist Cinema, which opened in 1912. It will make way for a £35 million student housing-led scheme by Broadway Malyan.

Planning permission for the scheme was granted by the council, however SAVE challenged the decision and took the case to the Court of Appeal. A judgment from the court is expected soon. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • For once he's right. Liverpool is in dire need of mega redevelopment - like new HQ Office Buildings (rather than inordinate student apartments!) and a decent city-wide tram system - even if it's only half as good as the magnificent system it threw away for no good reason back in the 1950s!

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  • For Jon Cox: If you're thinking of the drab student apartment block proposed in place of the characterful but neglected buildings to be trashed in Lime Street I agree, but to use the need to inject more economic life in the centre of Liverpool as an excuse to trash the World Heritage Site is really quite shameful.
    And if it's worth considering re-introducing trams, perhaps the World Heritage Site would benefit from reconstructing the Chicago-style Overhead Railway that was very much part of the character of the waterfront in the city's glory days.

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