The World Heritage Committee elected to remove the Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City entry from the World Heritage List at its 44th session, held in Fuzhou and online.
The decision, UNESCO states, was made “due to the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property”.
Liverpool was first added to the List in 2004, recognising the city’s historic centre and docklands, which became one of the world’s foremost trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The role played by the city in the advancement of many modern dock technologies, transport systems and port management techniques also contributed to its inscription.
It was in 2012 that things began to go sour, when proposals for Liverpool Waters – a development scheme which the Committee perceived as “detrimental to the site’s authenticity and integrity” – saw it moved to the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Now with other plans afoot, including Everton Football Club’s proposed new £500m stadium at Bramley Moore Dock, the decision has been made to cast Liverpool out.
As the Merseyside city joins the Elbe Valley in Dresden (Germany) and the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman) in having been axed from the World Heritage List, UNESCO says any such step is a “loss to the international community and to the internationally shared values and commitments under the World Heritage Convention”.
The envy of other cities
Liverpool’s mayor, Joanne Anderson, says she is “hugely disappointed and concerned” about a decision made “a decade after UNESCO last visited the city to see it with their own eyes”.
— Liverpool City Council (@lpoolcouncil) July 21, 2021
Anderson asserts that the city’s heritage 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”.
As such, she says the city will work with government to assess whether an appeal is worth pursuing. Regardless of the ruling, Anderson remains defiant that Liverpool’s future as a heritage destination remains undimmed.
“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’ll now be seeking to draw together all the UK heritage bodies in a round table to plan a positive future with further investment.”