Liverpool World Heritage Site stays on danger list

'Council's decision on Heaps rice mill will show just how much it respects city's history'

Written by  The Confidentials | Follow @ | Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:47

LIVERPOOL'S World Heritage Site is to stay on Unesco’s "at risk" list at least until next year. The coveted cultural status was given to Liverpool in 2004 to celebrate its legacy as a merchant shipping port. 

But the decision, three years ago, to give outline planning permission for Peel Holding’s £5bn Liverpool Waters scheme saw Liverpool being placed on the proverbial naughty step.
Since then, moves have been made to reconcile the proposed development of the abandoned Central Docks system with the duty to protect and preserve the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Steps taken so far were reported to the latest meeting of the World Heritage Committee, but the committee decide Liverpool’s name should remain on the At-Risk Register.
Instead the committee have asked for a report to be filed by next February so the issue can be examined again.
Heritage campaigner Wayne Colquhoun believes the fate of demolition-threatened Heaps rice mill will be a litmus test of the city’s resolve to protect and preserve its history.
“As an ever changing city, Liverpool should welcome developments, but those developments ought to respect our unique status. We could be clever and bring in world-class architects to create things that would really put Liverpool centre stage on the global map.
“Heap’s rice mill is older than the Albert Dock system and it is sad there is even talk of it coming down. This will really be a test of the city council’s credibility in the way it respects and protects buildings that reflect our mercantile and maritime history.”
The granting of outline planning permission to Peel for Liverpool Waters does not in itself pose a threat to the WHS status, but Unesco wants to hear details how it proposes to go from here. 
Some observers say the debate sparked by the latest meeting of the World Heritage Committee's, in Doha, is a way of mediating what is happening in Liverpool. The hope is enough will be done to eventually remove the city from the risk list. 
When Liverpool was granted World Heritage Status it joined an elite list that included the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids.
Ironically it was added to the ‘at risk’ register at the same time as WHS sites in troubled Syria.
Conservationists view Liverpool Waters as a nightmare attack on a World Heritage Site, with a Manhattan style skyline wrecking its epicentre. Government watchdog English Heritage and CABE have also criticised the proposed project.

In their own words...

The Docks 

Within the last few days the World Heritage Committee has released details of its deliberations about Liverpool’s WHS.

 It requests the "State Party":

* Submit comprehensive documentation for any proposed detailed master plans and detailed planning proposals, before they are adopted, together with an overall vision for the property over-arching such master plans, as well as details of the draft legal obligations and draft planning conditions for granting permission for any future development proposals;

 * Ensure that the process whereby master plans and detailed plans for the Liverpool Waters scheme, when developed, takes into consideration the concerns of the World Heritage Committee.

It strongly urges the State Party to consider all measures that would allow changes to the extent and scope of the proposed Liverpool Waters scheme to ensure the continued coherence of the architectural and town-planning attributes, and the continued safeguarding of the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) of the property including the conditions of authenticity and integrity;
It further notes with appreciation that the State Party submitted a proposal for the desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger along with a set of corrective measures, and expressed its willingness to pursue consultations with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in view of its finalisation for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
It also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
Decides to retain Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) on the World Heritage List in Danger.