Liverpool has lost its status as a Unesco world heritage site. According to Unesco, years of construction and redevelopment projects on the historic docklands have caused “irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value”.
Ranked alongside the Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China, Liverpool gained the coveted title in 2004 in recognition of its international trading prowess in the 18th and 19th centuries. The city pioneered innovative dock technology transport systems and port management, as well as boasting an architecturally beautiful waterfront.
The decision to delete the city from the list followed a secret ballot by the Unesco committee at a meeting in Fuzhou, China, and online. “Any deletion from the World Heritage List is a loss to the international community and to the internationally shared values and commitments under the World Heritage Convention,” commented the committee.
One of the new buildings being constructed by the waterfront is a stadium for Everton Football Club, which is costing £500 million. Another development is Liverpool Waters, a £5.5 billion project by Peel Group to transform previously disused land.
Joanne Anderson, mayor of Liverpool, said she was “hugely disappointed and concerned” by the decision. “Our world heritage site has never been in better condition having benefited from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment across dozens of listed buildings and the public realm,” claimed Anderson.
Unseco initially threatened to delist Liverpool in 2012, branding the city as a world heritage site in danger. It is only the third site to lose world heritage status in nearly 50 years, after the desilting of Dresden’s Elbe valley in 2009 and Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in 2007. Cities struck from the list no longer have access to UN conservation funding, protection under the Geneva conventions in the event of war, or feature in tourist guidebooks across the world.
The decision has drawn fierce criticism from Henrietta Billings, the director of Save Britain’s Heritage, who dubbed the outcome a “national embarrassment”. Billings blamed the government’s “devolve and forget” approach to protecting cultural assets for Liverpool’s loss.
Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, remarked that the decision was “taken on the other side of the world by people who do not appear to understand the renaissance that has taken place in recent years”.
He added “places like Liverpool should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating left-behind communities and the wealth of jobs and opportunities that come with it.”