Unesco has recommended Liverpool waterfront be removed from the list of world heritage sites after the city ignored its advice over the development of skyscrapers.
The United Nations heritage organisation will vote at its 44th annual conference next month as to whether to delist the historic port, which was granted Unesco world heritage status in 2004.
The recommendation cited local and national government failure to protect Liverpool from the development of skyscrapers at the docks, something Unesco had been warning about since 2017.
It specifically referred to changes to the £5bn Liverpool waters redevelopment scheme which Liverpool city council did not allow Unesco chance to advise on before the plans were approved.
Liverpool’s representatives have clashed with the organisation over the need to balance economic development with preservation of the historic appearance of the docks, ever since the waterfront was listed as “at risk” in 2012.
The report released on Monday stated that Unesco had given the UK “consistent advice” for the last nine years and that “not complied with the advice and repeated requests of the world heritage committee”.
It said the UK had “unequivocally confirmed” that there were no legal methods locally or nationally to stop development in order to preserve the world heritage status.
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While some conservation projects had been successful, it said, developments at the waterfront and the northern dock area “have progressively eroded the integrity” of the world heritage site.
It said: “The committee considered that the stated inability of the state party to control further developments clearly reflects inadequate governance systems and planning mechanisms that undermine protection and management and therefore, fail to sustain the [outstanding universal value] of the property.”
It later added that the committee “regrets that the process for the implementation of the Liverpool Waters project and other large-scale infrastructure projects in the waterfront and northern dock area of the property and its buffer zone has resulted in serious deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes.”
Steve Rotheram, metro mayor for Liverpool city region, said he was “disappointed” by the recommendation and that Liverpool “should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating left behind communities”.
Joanne Anderson, Liverpool mayor, said: “A full response will be made via [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] but our position is clear – we will be asking the committee to defer and review our case over the next 12 months.”
A government spokesperson said: “The UK is a world leader in cultural heritage protection and Liverpool’s world heritage status reflects the important role the city has played in our nation’s history.
“We are disappointed in this recommendation and will continue to work with Unesco, Historic England and Liverpool city council to ensure the World Heritage Committee can make an informed decision when it meets next month.”
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