SAVE calls on new Secretary of State to convene urgent Liverpool World Heritage Site summit

19 July 2016

SAVE calls on new Secretary of State to convene urgent Liverpool World Heritage Site summit

SAVE has written to Karen Bradley, the new Secretary of State for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), to request she call a summit meeting to address the serious issue of Liverpool’s World Heritage Site (WHS), which is on the UNESCO At Risk list.

Failure to resolve the current situation may lead to Liverpool being stripped of its WHS status, an action which would seriously undermine Britain’s record of heritage protection.

Last week at the 40th Congress of the World Heritage Committee in Istanbul, it was agreed by delegates that Liverpool should remain on the At Risk list for the 5th consecutive year.

In their draft decision the World Heritage Committee agreed that a moratorium on all new development should continue in the Central Docks area, and requested the State Party (DCMS) ensure that only small scale works of repair and maintenance be carried out in the WHS site as a whole.

During the Congress a member state delegate raised strong concerns about the UK’s commitment to the WHS, saying:

"There does not seem to be a clear and serious commitment from the state party to preserve the outstanding universal value of this World Heritage property already recognised to be in serious danger."

(His Excellency Mr Jose Filipe Mendes Moraes Cabral, Ambassador Extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Portugal to France, and permanent delegate)

Liverpool has been on the At Risk list since 2012, when it was added primarily for poor planning and management decisions. The city’s WHS status is threatened by inappropriate large scale development and a lack of co-ordinated policies to make sure new buildings do not harm the outstanding universal value of the WHS.

It is one of only two examples in Europe to be on the list, the other being Kosovo Medieval Monuments, which are at risk due to the legacy of conflict in the region.

That Liverpool is on the At Risk register at all is a national embarrassment, and contrary to the DCMS commitment in the Culture White Paper of March 2016 that states:

“We want to set a global standard in the stewardship of World Heritage Sites. By working with the World Heritage Centre, the governing bodies for World Heritage Sites, Historic England and others, we will promote sustainable development while ensuring our sites are protected.”

We are now calling on DCMS to take immediate action and work with all interested parties towards resolving the problems.

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE said: "World Heritage Status is a global honour, and a privilege that puts Liverpool's architecture and history on the world stage. 

“Inappropriate new development that blocks views, overshadows historic streets and demolishes notable buildings is putting this prestigious accolade at unnecessary risk. Our new government should be doing everything in its power to get Liverpool off the 'danger' list.

“We are calling on the Secretary of State to hold an urgent summit meeting to discuss Liverpool’s WHS – and to get it off the At Risk list as soon as possible.”

SAVE is currently campaigning to save several eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century buildings, including the 1912 Futurist Cinema, on Liverpool Lime Street, within the WHS buffer zone. Proposed is an 11 storey student accommodation tower, and is, we contend, the type of inappropriate development UNESCO refers to as putting the WHS at risk.

SAVE has appealed the decision to grant planning permission, and the case was heard at the Court of Appeal on 22 June. A judgement is expected from the Court imminently.

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Note to editors:

1. For more information please contact Henrietta Billings, Director at SAVE, on or Mike Fox, Deputy Director at SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or

2. The Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City World Heritage Site was inscribed in 2004, and joins a very select list of just 30 sites in the UK. As of 2016 there are just over 1,000 World Heritage Sites in total, and inclusion of Liverpool in this exclusive list should be treated as a great honour and a privilege, it serving to highlight the global importance of Liverpool’s rich history and exceptional architecture.

3. Management of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the responsibility of each respective national government, in this instance the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture Media and Sport.

4. 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

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