Thursday, August 5, 2021

Liverpool stripped of cherished World Heritage status after 17 years

World Heritage status is not automatically forever and developing historical sites is frowned on by Unesco.

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Unesco has stripped Liverpool of its World Heritage Status over “irreversible loss of attributes” caused by the redevelopment of the city’s docklands and the construction of a waterfront football stadium.

At a meeting of its heritage body in China on Wednesday, the UN body concluded that Liverpool’s historic waterfront has been damaged by a US$7.48 billion redevelopment and the building of a US$680 million football stadium on the site of derelict docks.

They voted in a secret ballot to end Liverpool’s prized heritage status.

Despite Liverpool’s protestations, Unesco claims it warned the city in 2012 that its status was at risk of removal if it proceeded with planned waterfront developments. However, the River Mersey city chose to go ahead with its building projects regardless of the risk to its World-Heritage-site title.

Liverpool was granted the coveted status in 2004 in recognition of its history as a trading hub during the British empire, and for its architectural landmarks. When awarding the city its title, Unesco specifically referenced the docklands, which had played a significant role throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

The decision to delist Liverpool makes it the third city to lose its status, alongside the Elbe Valley in Dresden, following the construction of a four-lane bridge across the landscape, and the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, after it reduced the size of its protected area by 90%.

Responding to the decision today, the Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said: “I’m hugely disappointed and concerned by this decision to delete Liverpool’s World Heritage status, which comes a decade after Unesco last visited our city to see it with their own eyes.

“Our World Heritage site has never been in better condition having benefitted from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment.

“Liverpool will always be a World Heritage city. We have a stunning waterfront and incredible heritage that is the envy of other cities.”

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