UNESCO flags ‘serious concerns’ over impact of major new development on Liverpool World Heritage Site

11 July 2016

UNESCO flags ‘serious concerns’ over impact of major new development on Liverpool World Heritage Site

UNESCO is set to re-iterate its ‘serious concerns’ about Liverpool’s World Heritage site (WHS), and is recommending that all major development within the area and buffer zone is stopped before satisfactory measures to eliminate threats to the site are in place.

At its forthcoming meeting this week, the international heritage body will propose that “work within the rest of the property (World Heritage Site) and buffer zone that may affect the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) should be strictly limited to repair, reuse and maintenance, in addition to small scale projects”.

The committee papers published ahead of the meeting note that Liverpool City Council has not yet stopped the threat from new development on the WHS, and that issues with high rise and mid rise developments within the Site are a concern.

The Committee states: “Though there is progress, to date the City Council has not yet completed the comprehensive measures to eliminate the threats to the Outstanding Universal Value. In particular the issue of the mid-and high-rise buildings has yet to be addressed at Liverpool Waters development project, or on various other development projects within the property [World Heritage Site].

The international heritage body is also recommending that Liverpool remain on the ‘List of World Heritage in Danger’ for the fourth consecutive year.

The Lime Street demolition and redevelopment proposals are in the buffer zone of the WHS, adjacent to the boundary with views along Lime Street to St George’s Hall.  The buffer zone is designed to protect the WHS from inappropriate development, and SAVE considers the consented demolition of the existing historic buildings and the design of the proposed 11 storey redevelopment will harm the setting of the WHS.

SAVE has challenged the decision-making process for the planning proposals, originally granted by Liverpool City Council in 2015. The decision was reviewed on 22 June at the Court of Appeal and the judgment is expected imminently.

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage says: “We consider that the Lime Street proposals are exactly the kind of re-development that UNESCO are concerned about. It is a major demolition and development scheme in the buffer zone of the WHS.

“World Heritage status was awarded to Liverpool in light of its genuine global significance, and Liverpool City Council signed up to the responsibilities and stewardship that go with this honour. This status is designed to ensure that the quality of major new development is commensurate with its international significance. Liverpool deserves a better quality of heritage led regeneration than is currently proposed.”

Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE says: "Liverpool has done great work restoring and reviving its fine Georgian, Victorian and early 20th Century architecture from decay but important historic buildings remain under threat like this group in Lime street and we will continue to champion their cause, producing proposals for repair and reuse."

SAVE is a national organisation with a long standing and firm commitment to heritage and the growth of Liverpool. For over 40 years SAVE has been involved in championing the rescue and reuse of numerous Liverpool landmarks, including the Albert docks, North Western Hotel on Lime Street, the churches of St Francis Xavier and St Mary of the Angels (Everton) and St Andrew’s Rodney Street, the Littlewoods building, the Granby Streets and the Welsh Streets and most recently Andrew Gibson House.

Liverpool’s World Heritage Site has been on the ‘at risk’ list since 2012. The only other European site currently on the At Risk list is Kosovo’s medieval monuments, following the war in 1998.

Note to Editors:

1. For more information and images, please contact Henrietta Billings, Director: Henrietta.billings@savebritainsheritage.org or Mike Fox, Deputy Director mike.fox@savebritainsheritage.org or on020 7253 3500

2. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets once a year. The next meeting is due to be held on 11-20th July in Istanbul. The committee papers for the meeting can be read here.

3. Planning permission for the demolition and re-development of the Futurist cinema and over 10 flanking 18th and 19th century buildings on Lime Street was approved by Liverpool City Council in 2015.

4. The appeal relates to Liverpool City Council (‘LCC’) and Neptune Developments’ proposals to demolish more than ten buildings on Liverpool Lime Street, which is located in the World Heritage Site Buffer Zone. The UK and its Overseas Territories’ 29 World Heritage Sites are the ultimate responsibility of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and John Whittingdale is Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

5. Numerous objections have been raised against the loss of the existing buildings and the replacement 11 storey proposal for student flats and a hotel, from Merseyside Civic Society, the Historic Cinema Theatres Association and the Victorian Society, as well as SAVE.  A public petition to Save the Futurist Cinema gathered over 4,000 signatures. 

6. SAVE is challenging the planning permission at the Court of Appeal on the grounds that Liverpool City Council failed to consult either UNESCO or DCMS regarding the impact on the World Heritage Site.

7. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage

70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

Registered Charity 269129

Tel. 020 7253 3500  Email office@savebritainsheritage.org


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