Liverpool loses its UNESCO World Heritage listing

(CNN) – It is famous for its docks, the Beatles and its two world famous football teams, but now Liverpool is enjoying a different kind of notoriety.

The port city in northwest England – which built much of its fortune on slavery – has been stripped of its coveted UNESCO World Heritage status, after a world committee decided that new developments in the city had weighed too heavily on its historical heritage. Fabric.

The decision was taken by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which currently sits in Fuzhou, China.

Previously, Liverpool was one of 53 sites on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage in Danger, a sort of watchlist that allows authorities to seek comprehensive solutions to preserve the heritage at stake.

It has been on the endangered species list since 2012, after being added to the World Heritage list for the first time in 2004 – a status awarded to other major tourist destinations, including Machu Picchu in Peru, the Pyramids of Giza. in Egypt and the Acropolis in Greece.

UNESCO said in a statement that the city had been “removed” from the list “due to the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property”.

He called the development of Liverpool Waters – a decades-long planned regeneration of the city’s famous docks – “detrimental to the authenticity and integrity of the site”.

The development proposal – which includes apartments, offices, shops and hotels in the old docks – was behind Liverpool’s listing as endangered in 2012.

But locals say it has also been a crucial project for creating local jobs.

A new stadium for the Everton football team proposed for the Bramley-Moore Docks has also been cited by UNESCO as a removal factor.

Noting their “regrets”, the committee wrote that “the State party has not responded to repeated requests from the committee”.

Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said she was “extremely disappointed and worried” by the decision, saying UNESCO had not fully assessed the city for “a decade” and calling the decision “completely false” .

“Our World Heritage site has never been in better condition, having benefited from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in dozens of listed buildings and in the public domain,” she added.

“We will work with the government to see if we can appeal but, whatever happens, Liverpool will always be a World Heritage City. We have a stunning waterfront and incredible built heritage that is the envy of others. cities.

“Our commitment to maintaining and improving our buildings remains as strong as ever and will continue to be a key part of our drive to attract visitors, as well as recreation, retail and events.”

“I find it incomprehensible that UNESCO would rather have Bramley Moore Dock remain an abandoned wasteland, rather than make a positive contribution to the future of the city and its inhabitants.”

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City region, also condemned the decision, calling it “a retrograde step that does not reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground”.

“Places like Liverpool should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating communities left behind – and the wealth of jobs and opportunities that come with it,” he said in a statement. communicated.

“Yes, there are new developments, but the forest of skyscrapers that sounded the alarm in the first place just didn’t materialize.

“UNESCO has called for a moratorium on the development of the city center. They have been told that this goes against UK planning law.

“As we have not had a full mission visit from UNESCO since 2011, invitations have been issued consistently over the past decade to break this deadlock.”

UNESCO indicates that the last visit took place in 2015 – and that Isabelle Anatole Gabrielle, Head of the Europe and North America office of the World Heritage Center, also visited in 2017 to meet representatives of the city council. Liverpool insist, however, that none of these visits were “complete”.

Liverpool is the third World Heritage site to be removed from the list, after the Elbe Valley in Dresden, Germany, and the Arabian Oryz Sanctuary in Oman.

“Any deletion from the World Heritage List is a loss for the international community and for the internationally shared values ​​and commitments under the World Heritage Convention,” UNESCO said in a statement.

The committee will assess whether global icons such as Venice and the Great Barrier Reef should be placed on the endangered list.

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