UNESCO has announced Liverpool has been stripped of its world heritage status after years of development for an “irreversible loss” to the historic value of its Victorian docks.
The UN’s heritage body concluded at a meeting in China today (Wednesday 21 July) that the “outstanding universal value” of Liverpool’s waterfront had been destroyed by new buildings, including Everton football club’s new £500m stadium.
Responding to the announcement, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“The Liverpool City Region is a place with a rich and storied past. We are proud of our history and do not shy away from it. But our heritage is also a vital part of our regeneration.
“Today’s decision by UNESCO is a retrograde step that does not reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground. Indeed, this was a decision taken on the other side of the world by people who do not appear to understand the renaissance that has taken place in recent years.
“But many of the sites cited by UNESCO are in communities sorely in need of investment. Places like Liverpool should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating left behind communities – and the wealth of jobs and opportunities that come with it. We did not want to lose our World Heritage Status, but nor could we allow it to preserve our region in aspic, while the world evolves around us.
“This is a really disappointing decision, but I am confident that our city will remain a vibrant and attractive cultural destination and – as we rebuild from the pandemic – will continue to welcome millions of people to our city and wider city region.”
Mayor Joanne Anderson said:
“I’m hugely disappointed and concerned by this decision to delete Liverpool’s World Heritage status, which comes a decade after UNESCO last visited the city to see it with their own eyes.
“Our World Heritage site has never been in better condition having benefitted from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment across dozens of listed buildings and the public realm.
“We will be working with Government, Historic England and other stakeholders to examine our next steps. We have a stunning waterfront and incredible built heritage that is the envy of other cities.
“Our commitment to maintaining and improving our buildings remains as strong as ever and will continue to be a key part of our drive to attract visitors, along with leisure, retail and events.
“I find it incomprehensible that UNESCO would rather Bramley Moore Dock remain a derelict wasteland, rather than making a positive contribution to the city’s future and that of its residents.
“I’ll now be seeking to draw together all the UK heritage bodies in a round table to plan a positive future with further investment.”
Chris Capes, Director of Development for Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters, commented:
“UNESCO’s decision to remove Liverpool from its list of World Heritage Sites is very disappointing, particularly given the considerable investment that the city has put into protecting and improving its heritage sites in recent years.
Without the World Heritage Site status, however, Liverpool’s rich history remains and Pier Head, the ‘Three Graces’ and the city’s many other fantastic historical assets will continue to attract visitors in their millions.
Regeneration for this part of the city is vital and, like our partners across the city region, we are focused on delivering it – creating new homes, commercial space, amenities, public realm, leisure facilities and key infrastructure on previously disused brownfield land.
We will show the world that regeneration and the protection of Liverpool’s heritage can happen together.”
UNESCO had warned Liverpool since 2012 that development had significantly changed the city’s skyline and was destroying the heritage value of its waterfront.