Dezeen Magazine

Two skyscrapers on Liverpool's waterfront

Liverpool should be stripped of World Heritage status says UNESCO

Liverpool is set to lose its World Heritage status, according to a UNESCO report citing detrimental waterfront developments "eroding the integrity" of the site.

In its report into sites currently at risk, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recorded a draft decision to remove Liverpool's docks from the World Heritage list.

"Decides to delete Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) from the World Heritage list," said the report in its list of action points.

UNESCO, which maintains the prestigious list of sites of significant historical and cultural interest, will make a final decision next month.

Liverpool Waters 

The report cites several developments including the £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters development and in the waterfront and northern dock as the reason for the site losing its status.

"The inevitable process for the implementation of the Liverpool Waters project and other large scale infrastructure projects in the waterfront and northern dock area of the property and its buffer zone have progressively eroded the integrity of the property and continue to do so as the most recent project proposals and approvals indicate," said the report.

The planning application for a new football stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock was also cited as "adversely" impacting the "authenticity" of the site.

World Heritage status under threat since 2012

The decision to remove Liverpool's status is set to be made following "repeated requests" from UNESCO to the local and national government to protect the site.

"The committee has considered several times the possibility of deletion of the property from the World Heritage List owing to the clear deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes conveying the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property including its authenticity and integrity, arising from the 'Liverpool Waters' development."

Two high rise towers, The Plaza 1821 and Hive City Docks by UK studios Hodder and Partners and Brock Carmichael Architects, were given planning approval as part of the Liverpool Waters in 2011 despite growing fears of the impact.

In 2012, proposals for these high-rise buildings prompted the World Heritage Committee to put the city on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

UNESCO considered removing Liverpool in 2017

At the UNESCO committee's annual meeting in 2017, it again considered removing Liverpool from the World Heritage List over the plans, which were approved that year.

In 2018, in a bid to prevent being removed from the prestigious list, the council and preservation body Historic England drafted an action plan. Among the ideas put forward in the Desired State of Conservation Report is a "skyline policy for tall buildings".

Despite these attempts to protect the heritage status of the site, the report recommends the site be removed from the list.

Liverpool's docks were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004 for their role as a major trading port in the creation of the British Empire.

If it loses its status Liverpool will join Dresden and Oman as the only sites to have been stripped of their World Heritage status.