Dezeen Magazine

Two skyscrapers on Liverpool's waterfront

Liverpool to introduce building height cap in bid to save World Heritage status

Liverpool plans to clamp down on tall towers after controversial plans to build a pair of high-rise blocks facing the River Mersey threatened the UNESCO World Heritage status of the English city.

The council and preservation body Historic England, have drawn up an action plan to rescue the city from being scrapped from the register, which denotes sites of significant historical and cultural interest.

Among the ideas put forward in the Desired State of Conservation Report is a "skyline policy for tall buildings", which will put maximum height caps for new structures in place. A similar scheme was scrapped by the local council's then-leader Warren Bradley in 2006.

Liverpool Waters will not progress in current form

The action plan seems to confirm that the £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters development will not progress in its proposed form.

Original visuals for the dock-side scheme showed a pair of towers designed by Hodder and Partners and Brock Carmichael Architects far exceeding the height of neighbouring buildings – breaching one of the key conditions set for the site to retain its World Heritage status.

In response to the threat of losing heritage status, Peel Holdings the developer of Liverpool Waters has already confirmed to Liverpool City Council that there is "no likelihood of the scheme coming forward in this form".

According to the document, the developer is "undertaking a comprehensive review of the scheme and drawing up new masterplans taking full account of heritage considerations including all recorded commentary by the World Heritage Committee."

Liverpool World Heritage status under threat since 2011

Six historic trading sites in Liverpool were originally inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004, for their role in the growth of the British Empire.

Initial proposals for a series of high-rise buildings in 2011 prompted UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to put the city on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and at its annual meeting in 2017 it again considered removing Liverpool from the World Heritage List over the plans.

Liverpool's historic docks has seen a wave of development recently, including the Museum of Liverpool by 3XN and a new Royal Institute of British Architects outpost.

Approval of the action plan could see this building, called the RIBA North Centre, become a hub for the future management of the World Heritage site.

The draft report is set to be go before the council on 23 February 2018, before being submitted to the World Heritage Committee for consideration at its July meeting.

Locations in Dresden and Oman are the only sites to have been stripped of their World Heritage status to date.