News | 20/02/19

Liverpool works towards safeguarding World Heritage status

Liverpool City Council’s cabinet is being asked to green-light two feasibility reports this week [Friday 22 March] that will move the city closer to saving its UNESCO World Heritage Status.

One report will look at the future management of the World Heritage Site (WHS) and the other will review and explore the feasibility of extending the WHS’s boundaries.

The city was granted its status in 2004, but was placed on UNESCO’s “in danger” list in 2012. The reports will set in motion a further two of the 10 corrective measures agreed by the World Heritage Committee last year.

Progress made on the other corrective measures are set out in the annual Desired State of Conservation Report (DSOCR) that cabinet is also being asked to endorse on Friday.

Liverpool’s WHS comprises six main areas in the city centre:

  • The Pier Head
  • The Albert Dock Conservation Area
  • Stanley Dock Conservation Area
  • Castle Street/Dale Street Conservation Area – the Commercial District
  • William Brown Street Conservation Area – the Cultural Quarter
  • Lower Duke Street Conservation Area – the Merchants’ Quarter.

A partnership steering group currently oversees the WHS with partners voluntarily giving their time. However, as the six areas contain a mixture of publicly and privately owned land and buildings management of the sites is complex.

The first report will look at the feasibility of establishing a trust or another form of management model that can oversee the relationships between partners, land and property owners.

The second report will look at adding Jesse Hartley’s southern docks, Chinatown, Rodney Street, Canning Street and Hope Street to the WHS. The Baltic Triangle and Ten Streets would also be assessed. For new areas to be included the city will have to demonstrate how they add to the outstanding universal value of the WHS.

The city has already made progress on the other corrective measures including working with RIBA North to set up the WHS information hub featuring an interactive 3D Digital City Model, housed at the Waterfront’s City Gallery.

This is one of the first world heritages sites to have an interactive information hub and the City Model can be used as a planning tool for developers and is also open to the public.

The progress Liverpool is making is set in the context of the city’s continuing commitment to safeguarding its historic buildings.

Over £750m has been invested in the last ten years bringing the number of buildings assessed as “at risk” by Historic England to 2.75 per cent, far below the national average. Also any development that may impact on the WHS’s outstanding universal value is now accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment.

If approved, the report on management options will be commissioned and completed before this year’s World Heritage Committee in July. The boundary report will be commissioned this year for consideration by the World Heritage Committee in July 2020.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “World Heritage Status is a badge of honour that Liverpool is proud to have. We are committed to bringing the city off the “in danger” list and we believe that the ideas underpinning these two reports will not only help to do that but will strengthen the site for the future.

“The very basis of our World Heritage Status is the city’s historic role in global trade and migration so to explore the inclusion of areas such as Chinatown and Rodney Street makes sense.

“In Liverpool, we face the challenge of a mix of land and property with different owners spread across a wide, city centre area. Trusts have been set up to maintain other heritage sites, such as in Edinburgh, and we’re confident in Liverpool with our track record of working with partners this will be a very productive way forward.”