Plan to save city’s World Heritage Status

A REPORT outlining how Liverpool intends to save its World Heritage Status is set to be endorsed by the city council next week.

The council, together with Government and Historic England, has drafted a Desired State of Conservation Report (DSOCR) which describes the corrective measures Liverpool is proposing to protect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the site which the city hopes will persuade UNESCO to remove the site from the “in danger” list.

The DSOCR will go to the council’s Cabinet next Friday (23 February) for endorsement following its recent submission to Government, and once approved will be submitted to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for subsequent examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in July.

The report focuses on the main issue of how the city needs to balance its projected population and economic growth over the next 15 years, which will see the creation of 35,000 new homes and 30,000 jobs, whilst protecting its World Heritage Site (WHS).

The main threat to the city’s WHS, as perceived by UNESCO, is the proposed developments in the £5bn Liverpool Waters scheme, specifically for its Central Docks area, which was given outline planning permission in June 2013. However, the report shows that Peel’s initial outline proposal for Central Docks is now being reviewed and a neighbourhood masterplan will take in heritage concerns and planning guidelines on heights of buildings.

 Mayor Joe Anderson said: “Liverpool’s World Heritage Status is of great importance to the city, not only in showcasing our unique maritime heritage but in how we can use it to shape our future boosting both our tourism economy and our civic pride.

“This report shows in great detail the lengths Liverpool has already gone and will continue to go, to balance the needs of a growing city whilst protecting our World Heritage Status.

“This is a delicate task and involves all the major city stakeholders working together to understand very specific planning issues and creating solutions that works for the city and UNESCO.

“With the support and input of the DDCMS I am sure this collaborative approach means we can all ensure Liverpool’s World Heritage Status is secured when the committee meets in July.”

Liverpool has already taken many steps to protect and improve the physical state of its WHS. A survey has shown that since 2012 the number of Buildings at Risk have been reduced to below 2.75% of building stock – far below the UK national average – with recent successes including the re-opening of St Luke’s Church (also known as the Bombed Out Church) while work this week has begun to save and eventually transform the historic Wellington Rooms (the city’s former Irish Centre).

In total more than £750m has been invested into historic assets within the WHS in the past decade including the upgrade of 37 listed buildings, 18 with council financial assistance, such as the Aloft Hotel, the award-winning Central Library and Stanley Dock.

Since 2015 each development proposal that has the potential to affect the OUV is accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment that details the significance of the asset/s that may be affected, the nature of that impact and, where appropriate, how any harmful impacts can be mitigated.

And since the 2017 World Heritage Committee Session Liverpool has also established an independent Task Force to re-establish a positive debate with Government and UNESCO with a view to the retention of WHS status.