Liverpool, home to two of England’s biggest football and world renowned music legends, the Beatles is at the risk of losing its World Heritage Status. One of Britain’s 30 world heritage sites, the city was granted a world heritage status in 2004 in celebration if its waterfront and the Three Graces, three impressive Edwardian buildings, The Royal River Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building all standing together on the Mersey close to Prince’s Dock where the 11 storey, Malmaison hotel is located. This treasured status could be revoke in 2018 due to the proposed redevelopment of its historical waterfront, a £5.5 billion project overseen by Peel Land and Property Group. This project will involve adding residential towers, blocks of offices and a new cruise terminal which will cover 60 hectares of the northern docklands.
There are currently over 1000 heritage sites all over the world and according to UNESCO, 54 are in the List of World Heritage in Danger for various reasons ranging from urban encroachment and poaching to civil disturbances and wars. Two sites are in Afghanistan, three in Iraq, five in Libya, six in Syria and Liverpool.
“The development will expand the city center significantly and alter the skyline and profile of the site.” Says UNESCO. “If the project is implemented, Liverpool may entirely lose the outstanding universal value for which it was given world heritage status”.
But how can Liverpool protect its World Heritage Status and avoid becoming like the German city of Dresden that lost heritage status after the construction of a controversial £156m bridge across the river Elbe?
Changes to the original master plan have been made with a 55 storey tower at Princess Dock reduced to a shorter row of blocks.
The design and height of the proposed structures can be modified in such a way as not to affect the surroundings, the regeneration plans should not affect Liverpool’s history or architecture.
Council officials, department of digital, culture media & sports must work closely with UNESCO to arrive at a solution that allows for development in that area while allowing the city to keep its treasured status.
Finding a way to “reduce the geography” of the World Heritage site could also be on the table, Mr. Kitts, chairman of Liverpool’s World Heritage Site steering group said.
“I think it’s partly down to dialogue. We’ve invited Unesco to come to the city three times in the last 12 months, but have never heard back,” he said. “It’s about having a dialogue to make sure everyone understands what’s being discussed in terms of the need to grow the city’s economy and in terms of celebrating the city’s heritage.”
At the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in Krakow earlier this year, the commission expressed its “deep concern” that a number of projects have been approved which could have “potentially highly adverse and irreversible impacts” on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Liverpool’s WHS but Officials at Liverpool City Council, are confident they can find a solution that all parties will be satisfied with.