11 Mar 2013
Posted By:
Comments: 0

ICOMOS-UK is concerned at the recent decision by Ministers not to call in the proposals for the extensive re-development of part of the old docks within the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City World Heritage site on the grounds that local councillors are the best people to decide on the extensive high-rise Liverpool Waters scheme, much of which is within the Liverpool World Heritage site.

From the time of the nomination of Liverpool, it has always been the hope that World Heritage status would provide the catalyst for a visionary re-development of the former docks area.  The docks have long since lost their original use but nevertheless aspects of them survive in a way that cannot be paralleled elsewhere in the world. This evidence combined with the extra-ordinary complex of buildings in the mercantile and cultural quarters was why the place was inscribed on the World Heritage list.

ICOMOS-UK does not consider that the current outline scheme will bring about the renaissance of the dock area in a way that would celebrate Liverpool’s role in world trade during the 18th and 19th centuries while at the same time providing the structure for new industries and new domestic areas: the scheme is simply not good enough, nor sensitive enough to its surroundings. It would have a massive detrimental impact on the World Heritage site as has been indicated by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee when it inscribed Liverpool on the World Heritage List in Danger at its last meeting in 2012. Moreover it is an outline scheme with no guaranteed funding, and no certainty that the land will not be sold off piecemeal as a result of its enhanced value that could remove the possibility of any sort of coordinated development for the docks.

ICOMOS-UK considers that there is an urgent need to discuss how World Heritage sites such as Liverpool and many others could become the focus for beneficial sustainable development that does not compromise their status. World Heritage inscription should bring attention that allows for the best opportunities to be considered. The pre-conditions for this type of beneficial development need to be much more readily understood and promoted. Exemplars are needed.  In this respect it is to be hoped that the detailed development proposals for the old docks within the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City World Heritage site could still provide an opportunity for ICOMOS-UK and other organisations, such as English Heritage, to work with the developers and the City of Liverpool to promote development that sustains the Outstanding Universal Value for which Liverpool was inscribed on the World Heritage list.