Liverpool’s global heritage in danger: read transcript of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in full

27th July 2016

Liverpool’s global heritage in danger: read transcript of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in full

Following the recent decision by UNESCO to keep Liverpool on the ‘at risk’ list of World Heritage Sites, SAVE has transcribed in full the part of the World Heritage Committee meeting relating to Liverpool from the live video link. Read our transcript here.  The link to the video appears here (the relevant discussion can be found at 1:25:13 - 1:51:19 of the recording).

There was notably strong criticism of the UK government’s role in protecting the World Heritage Site and the possibility was raised that Liverpool could be stripped of its World Heritage status unless action is taken to protect the World Heritage Site and buffer zone from inappropriate development.

Key quotes from the World Heritage Committee meeting held on 12th July 2016 in Istanbul:

Committee member for Portugal: There does not seem to be a clear and serious commitment from the State Party [the UK] to preserve the Outstanding Universal Value of this World Heritage property already recognized to be in serious danger…

…it would be very useful for the State Party to address these issues here ….so that we could have some clarity on what the real intentions of the State Party are on this matter and taking into account that a deletion from the list is always possible.

Committee member for PolandUnfortunately, after 4 years since 2012 Committee Decision [to put Liverpool on the List of World Heritage in Danger] we hardly see any progress made by the State Party in this regard…In such a situation we have no other choice like to come back to the discussion of removing this property from the World Heritage List in the near future.

Committee member for TurkeyThe Committee has been asking the State Party to develop the Desired State of Conservation [a report which would set out what measures are needed to take the area off the in Danger list] since the property’s first inscription in the Danger List in 2012 but it seems it is still in progress….

ICOMOS: ... the major threat to the OUV posed by overdevelopment within the property itself and within its buffer zone remains.  ICOMOS and the Committee have consistently advised that the proposed Liverpool Waters development and specifically the scale of the proposed development would fundamentally adversely affect the OUV of the property...Substantial reduction in the urban density and particularly height of new buildings is required to avert this threat. ICOMOS understands that this can only be achieved through engagement and negotiation among the three principal stakeholders: Liverpool City Council, Peel Holdings and English Heritage….


The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is composed of 21 states, appointed on a rotating basis.  The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. It has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List. It examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties and asks State Parties to take action when properties are not being properly managed. It also decides on which properties should be on its “at risk” list, known as the List of World Heritage in Danger.

ICOMOS has an official role in advising the Committee as an expert in conserving the world’s monuments and sites.

Management of each UNESCO World Heritage Site is the responsibility of the respective national government.  In the case of the UK, it is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture Media and Sport, Karen Bradley MP.

SAVE is currently campaigning to save a terrace of over ten 18th, 19th and 20th century buildings including the 1912 Futurist Cinema on Lime Street. The site which lies in the WHS buffer zone is set to be demolished and replaced by an 11 storey student accommodation tower and hotel development.  SAVE argues that this large-scale demolition project is the type of inappropriate development that is 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.

Documents (click to read/download)