The World Heritage Committee(WHC) has recommended that Liverpool should lose its World Heritage status.
image: for illustration purposes only – Dave Chetwin
…It has neither developed a tool and framework….nor demonstrated either adequate commitment…
The WHC writes (p.55 on):
In February 2020, the State Party submitted notification under Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines of the foreshadowed proposed new football stadium to be constructed on the site of Bramley- Moore Dock, within the property. This proposal, presented in more than 400 documents, would require infill of the historic dock, and construction of a very large new built form on the Liverpool waterfront.
ICOMOS has advised that the proposal, if implemented, would have a completely unacceptable major adverse impact on the authenticity and integrity, therefore, the OUV of the property and should not proceed at this location and that the proposal is also contrary to the State Party’s own guidance documents, and contrary to explicit Decisions of the World Heritage Committee.
The State Party has recently developed and published the North Shore Vision for the northern part of Liverpool, resulting in a document that includes a part of the property and its buffer zone, but its focus is not on protecting OUV but rather on outlining integrated development approach for an area of the city that is in need of social and economic realignment. The relevant authorities of the State Party should have afforded greater weight to the objectives and requirements of the United Kingdom’s National Planning Policy Framework, and in particular the provisions of paragraphs 192, 193, 194, 196 and 200, to give priority to sustainable conservation and use of heritage assets for community benefit, and afford primacy to conservation of World Heritage, over and above the desire to permit an inappropriate level of intervention and change allowable under the OPC. The North Shore Vision itself doesn’t require a separate technical review, a section dedicated to its content having been included by ICOMOS in its technical review of the proposed DSOCR.
Over the period since the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the State Party has been provided with consistent advice through Committee Decisions, missions and technical reviews. The State Party has not complied with the advice and repeated requests of the World Heritage Committee. It has neither developed a tool and framework document in the form of a DSOCR and corrective measures, which defines the state of conservation that a property must reach in order to demonstrate that it is no longer threatened by ascertained or potential serious and specific danger and would enable its removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger, nor demonstrated either adequate commitment to limit the quantity, location and size of allowable built form, nor put mechanisms in place to prevent the implementation of the ‘Liverpool Waters’ scheme and other construction projects in the property and its buffer zone from having a major negative impact on the OUV of the property. Furthermore, the new North Shore Vision incorporates both implementation of the ‘Liverpool Waters’ scheme and the recently-approved stadium on the site of the historic Bramley-Moore Dock. The necessary corrective measures have not been taken in conformity with Paragraph 191(a) of the Operational Guidelines. Moreover, the State Party itself has unequivocally confirmed on multiple occasions that with regard to its obligations to comply with the national and local planning framework, it has no ability to put in place the requested moratorium for new building projects, nor to stop nor to significantly change the approved OPC for the ‘Liverpool Waters’ scheme. This indicates that there are no legal and instrumental means available in the governance of the property that would allow the State Party to protect the OUV of the property.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies conclude that despite some successful projects aiming to protect the OUV of the property through adaptive reuse of buildings mostly in the historic centre of Liverpool, within the property and its buffer zone, the inevitable 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 have progressively eroded the integrity of the property and continue to do so as the most recent project proposals and approvals indicate. These actions have already resulted in serious deterioration and loss of attributes that convey the OUV of the property to the extent that it has lost characteristics which determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List, in conformity with Paragraph 192(a) of the Operational Guidelines. The approved planning application for a new football stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock within the property adds to the ascertained threat on the property’s OUV and is directly contrary to the approach requested by the Committee for this property. Furthermore, it reflects the lack of commitment from the State Party to protect this property in the long-term. At its 36th session in 2012, the Committee decided to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and specifically identified at the time the possibility of deletion of the property from the World Heritage List, should the ‘Liverpool Waters’ project be approved and implemented. The Committee has considered several times (Decisions 36 COM 7B.39, 37 COM 7A.35, 38 COM 7A.19, 40 COM 7A.31, 41 COM 7A.22 and 42 COM 7A.7) the possibility of deletion of the property from the World Heritage List owing to the clear deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes conveying the OUV of the property including its authenticity and integrity, arising from the ‘Liverpool Waters’ development OPC, and decided, at its 43rd session, to delete the property from the World Heritage List at its 44th session, if the Committee decisions related to the adoption of the DSOCR and the moratorium for new buildings were not met.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7A.34
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add,
- Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.93, 37 COM 7A.35, 38 COM 7A.19, 39 COM 7A.43, 40 COM 7A.31, 41 COM 7A.22, 42 COM 7A.7 and 43 COM 7A.47, adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017), 42nd (Manama, 2018) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively, and in particular its repeated serious concerns over the impact of the proposed ‘Liverpool Waters’ development in the form presented in the approved Outline Planning Consent (2013-2042) which constitutes an ascertained threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and that the implementation of the development, as planned, would irreversibly damage the attributes and conditions of integrity that warranted inscription;
- Also recalling its repeated requests to the State Party to:
a) 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 of the property, including the conditions of authenticity and integrity,
b) Establish substantive commitments to limitation on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form and linking the strategic city development vision to a regulatory planning document, which provides legal guidelines on the protection of the OUV,
c) Establish a moratorium for granting of planning permissions which have a negative impact on the OUV of the property,
d) Submit, a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and corrective measures in a form that might be considered for adoption by the Committe;
- Further recalling that, according to Article 6.1 of the Convention, the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List constitute the world’s heritage, the protection of which is the duty of the international community as a whole, and that it is the duty of the international community to assist and to cooperate with States Parties in their endeavour to conserve such heritage;
- Recalling furthermore that States Parties have the obligation under the Convention to protect and conserve the cultural and natural heritage situated on their territory, notably to ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection and conservation of such heritage;
- Notes with deep regret that inadequate governance processes, mechanisms, and regulations for new developments in and around the World Heritage property, have resulted in serious deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes conveying the OUV of the property along with significant loss to its authenticity and integrity, that the process of further deterioration is irreversible, and that the State Party has not fulfilled its obligations defined in the Convention with respect to protecting and conserving the OUV, as inscribed, of the World Heritage property of Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City;
- Also notes with deep regret that as a result of approved and implemented development projects, the property has deteriorated to the extent that it has lost characteristics, which determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List, in conformity with Paragraph 192(a) of the Operational Guidelines and that the necessary corrective measures have not been taken in conformity with Paragraph 193 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Regrets that the entreaties of the World Heritage Committee at its 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th, 41st, 42nd and 43rd sessions have not resulted in protection of the property;
- Also 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 that convey its OUV, and that further projects, such as the approved new football stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock within the property, add to the ascertained threat of further deterioration and loss of the OUV of the property;
- Further regrets that the State Party has not complied with the repeated requests of the Committee, and has itself indicated that there are no legal and other means available in the governance of the property that would allow the State Party to comply with all of the Committee’s requests so as to ensure the protection of the property and retention of its OUV in the long-term; Decides to delete Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) from the World Heritage List. ‘