Liverpool waterfront officially stripped of World Heritage status

Video report by correspondent Ann O'Connor

Liverpool has officially been stripped of its World Heritage status.

The city's waterfront was handed the title in 2004, but Unesco say large-scale developments, like Everton's proposed new stadium, had significantly reduced the “authenticity” of the area.

The historic docklands were among 32 world heritage sites dotted across the UK, including the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland and the Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

Other sites delisted by the Unesco Committee include Dresden Elbe Valley, removed in 2009, in Germany and the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, which was stripped of the title in 2007.

The decision was made following a secret ballot by the committee at a meeting in China.

Artist impression of Everton's new ground Bramley Moore Dock Stadium

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, says she is disappointed with the outcome and hopes to appeal the decision.

She said: "Responding to the decision today, 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 the 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 across dozens of listed buildings and the public realm.

"We will be working with Government to examine whether 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 other cities."

Liverpool was placed on Unesco's World Heritage in Danger list in 2012. There are currently 53 sites on the list, with many put on after armed conflict and war, pollution, poaching and over-development.

A report considered by the committee, meeting virtually and in person in Fuzhou, China, said: “The approved planning application for a new football stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock within the property adds to the ascertained threat on the property’s outstanding universal value (OUV) and is directly contrary to the approach requested by the committee for this property.”

Plans for Everton’s new £500 million stadium were approved earlier this year despite objections from heritage body ICOMOS, acting on behalf of Unesco, as well as the Victorian Society and Historic England.

Credit: PA

Responding to the announcement, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said “Today’s decision by UNESCO is a retrograde step that does not reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground.

"Indeed, this was a decision taken on the other side of the world by people who do not appear to understand the renaissance that has taken place in recent years. 

“But many of the sites cited by UNESCO are in communities sorely in need of investment. 

"Places like Liverpool should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating left behind communities – and the wealth of jobs and opportunities that come with it.

"We did not want to lose our World Heritage Status, but nor could we allow it to preserve our region in aspic, while the world evolves around us. "