UNESCO has called for a moratorium on new building work across the central Liverpool waterfront due to the potential damage it could cause the World Heritage Site
The United Nation’s cultural body has endorsed the conclusions of an advisory mission that visited Liverpool in February which stated its ‘deep concerns’ over the impact that developer Peel’s Liverpool Waters development would have on the World Heritage Site (WHS) of Liverpool - Mercantile City.
UNESCO has urged the UK government to implement the recommendations of the report which include reducing the density and height of the Liverpool Waters development from the maximum currently allowed.
The report also called for a moratorium until 2016 on the detailed planning of the Liverpool Waters Central Docks development till an agreed urban design programme was prepared.
UNESCO’s world heritage committee resolved to ask the UK government to produce an amended Desired State of Conservation for the removal of a property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) to satisfy their concerns over the WHS and that ‘no new detailed plans affecting the property will be approved before that date’.
However the decision by UNESCO’s world heritage committee to approve a moratorium on the entire Central Docks without amending the wording to clarify the extent of the area means that even vacant historic buildings could not be bought back into use.
The ultimate decision on UNESCO’s recommendation lay with Liverpool Council - however it is believed the UK State Party, which represents the UK at UNESCO is debating whether to ask for clarification on the UNESCO position.
UK heritage body Historic England has concluded that this would affect all schemes across the heritage site, including conservation initiatives to bring historic buildings back into use.
Since UNESCO last visited the world heritage site in 2011 the Liverpool Waters scheme received outline planning permission, with detailed proposals expected no later than 2018. The number of buildings at risk within the WHS has reduced from 12 per cent to 3.8 per cent.
According to the report, in a meeting with UNESCO representatives City Centre Development Manager Pete Jones explained that the City Council Planning Authority ‘cannot, de jure, modify the approval of the outline planning application’ by Peel Holdings that was granted in 2013.
However the council confirmed that the outline planning permission represented the maximum size of the development at Liverpool Waters.
Comment from Historic England:
‘Historic England is working closely with the WHS Partnership, Liverpool City Council and the UK Government to secure the best outcome for Liverpool and our world heritage. We are reflecting on the Decision of the World Heritage Committee and will respond as appropriate in due course.’