Friday, 5 June 2009

Old Customs Die Hard.

Here is an old photo looking from within the Colonades of the Old Customs House which was demolished in the 50s to give people work (it would have been as easy to rebuild it) this is one of the biggest disasters to Liverpools Architecture.
But look at the same view and what the current bunch are doing right under the noses of Unesco who are a complete waste of time.
We have recently been advised that the sum of £135,000 comes from the UK government and their total budget is £2,000,000. There is no wonder they will not complain. The DCMS are assisting in running it as a member state of UNESCO.
You may note the New Liverpool, the Milton Keynes-On-Sea is not quite of the same quality as the old where we had Quality Architects such as Lutyens, Shaw, and Gilbert Scott working here.
This is the corner of Chavasse Park and the god'am awful Cesar Pelli monstrosity on the corner of Grosvenor-pool. In the background is the New Museum inspired by a design by ....Manweb and the Three Ugly Sisters next to our Three Graces, which are just about to be clad in stick a brick black Granite. It is going to hit home soon just what the lunatics who have taken over the asylum have done.

It is a crying shame.
We know you have to move on but this is going backwards.
Liverpool had a blank canvass on which to paint a new picture and it seems we have turned away from Palladio and got into Puff Daddio.

Jonathon Glancey touches on the subject in BD Magazine.
Phil Redmond the Chair of NML replacing Loyd Grossman, who was allegedly "grassed up" to the DCMS by David "Fuzzy Felt" Fleming. Dr Redmond who coined the phrase "Scouse Wedding" well he nicked it from one of the local writers recently said to me looking over from the Albert Dock to the New Liverpool "At least they will fall down in 50 years, and wont be around after that".
"Yes in the meantime I have to look at them, thats no good to me." I replied.
Some attitude that from the master of spin whose wife is also a trustee of NML.
I don't think there are many Scouse Weddings in the leafy Cheshire Village of Utkington where he is now Lord of the Manor.
The City has been binge-building and now we are soon gonna wake up and have one hell of a hangover.


  1. I dasgree that UNESCO is a complete waste of time. I think that you haven't got a handle on the relationships at all with DCMS and UNESCO. UNESCO runs UNESCO. We are represented on UNESCO World Heritage Committee as a member state. Yes we pay our share of UNESCO running costs, we are signatories to the World Heritage Convention. Yes the DCMS reports to UNESCO each year its apologist views on the state of conservation; UNESCO forms its own views, based on ICOMOS-UK and other reports. When UNESCO visited last November, local groups were allowed to meet and put forward their own views.

    The report on the missions to Bath and Edinburgh will be released to the public very soon, in time for Seville. Parts of this have been leaked, and also the part regarding the Haymarket development in Edinburgh was released last week in time for the public inquiry, although that is not within the World Heritage Site it is directly next to it. It is highly critical. The Scottish government has said it will abide by whatever UNESCO says, as UNESCO is considered part of the planning process.

    UNESCO has clout; where a good case is made by local and national people and bodies, it will listen, in my experience. Make your case to ICOMOS-UK, write to UNESCO, get support and ask them to come and see.

  2. I think that the good lady at Nemesis is a bit off patch here as I have a very good handle on the relationship with Unesco the DCMS and Liverpool City Council and the funding of the WHS destruction by the NWDA who fund NML who are too interconected with NMl and I consider her views to be niave to say the least.
    She may not be aware of all the facts to hand and requesting writing to Unesco is like throwing the letter down the drain. I know this because I and collegues of mine have wasted a lot of paper.
    However we did get them to come and see us in 2006 and they were smolshed around by the city council in a limosine. We and the MCS who I was a council member at the time were given ten minute slots to put the case forward. I may as well have banged my head against the wall.
    I sincerely Hope that you will find that when said reports for Bath & Edinburgh come back they will have the effect you want...we will see.
    I brandished the report from 2005 by Susan Denyer of Icomos-UK who nailed the problems in a comprehensive report, at the original planning meeting for Liverpools new museum.
    The planning committee had already made up thier mind under instructions the fact that that committe was made up by people who dont live in Liverpool and now convicted councillors is what we are up against here.
    What you are requesting has long been done in Liverpool.
    We who are concentrating intensly on what is OUR historic city and not just dipping thier toe into the water of someone elses are more than competent to understand fully the relationships at play and have grown out of the niavity of believing Unesco are anything than a waste of time.

  3. I'm not naive, and I'm not dipping a toe in the water. I am very aware of how things work.

    Toady's Scotsman has leaked part of the UNESCO report on Caltongate.

    Last week the Haymarket part of the report was given to the public inquiry.

    I think that UNESCO demanding that major changes be made to Caltongate, and ststying that changes be made to ensure these things don't happen again, is a result.

    A great deal of hard work and I played my part; we now await the verdict on Bath.

  4. I sincerely wish you had helped us in our quest because at the time we felt like we had been abandoned by all the heritage organisations whether they be volontary or Government funded, We too had letters from Price Charles showing support We had all the documents of a Reactive Monitoring mision from Unesco claiming views were being ruined it says clearly that at Mann Island the "Three Ugly Sisters" are too high. But when you get the likes of Sir Neil Cossons the Chair of English Heritage working for the purpetrators of the damage to the WHS.... NML, and Unesco take the Heretics advice, it is naive to consider it is not well and truly stitched up and at this moment in time EH are crawling all over the WHS with Peel Holdings just up-river from the Pier Head.
    The only thing that will protect us from the weak willed people at UNESCO and Icomos Internatianal(not to be confused with UK)is the Credit Crunch not words.

  5. Time moves on, and all pressure helps move situations along. It wasn't heritage organisations driving along the missions to Bath and Edinburgh, it was mostly ordinary people, banding together and campaigning.

    I dont think UNESCO is weak willed, it's just it has to move the way it does, and that's slowly. It can't send in the troops. It has to be clearly told not to believe all that it is told from offical sources, and why. In both Bath and Edinburgh, there was limited consultation time, and yes the usual schmoozing, but a vast amount of paperwork was submitted by campaigners to argue that the official DCMS and other reports were not giving the full picture.

    There was a public inquiry in Edinburgh last week. Six plus hours of Prof Stovel from Canada (ICOMOS, UNESCO advisor) defending Edinburgh from the vandals isn't bad.

    Try asking UNESCO to come and look again. Support that with paperwork saying why you think what is happening is damaging the Outstanding Universal Value, integrty and authenticity of the site, and why you think it is against national and local policies for setting of listed buildings and views in conservation areas. Send pictures.

    The recent government public consultation on the protection of World Heritage Sites shows that they are partly listening, albeit pushed to it rather than leading the way. The embarrassment factor of international scrutiny helps.

  6. Thanks Nem for your advice feels like it is its like banging your head against a wall here in Liverpool and I understand you know that the damage to the WHS has now been done. We can not be helped, we asked for Unesco help it never arrived. We blazed a trail right to Unescos door and they realised that the UK Government is not protecting its WH sites and asked for legislation. My understanding that the white paper that was supposed to be in place has now been shelved so it can not help us at Liverpool.

  7. UNESCO helped in the way it lawfully could, sent a mission, wrote reports, brought pressure to bear, but it can't, as I said, send in the troops. It can put Liverpool on the In Danger list, it can remove WH status, (would that help or make things worse?)but it's the responsibilty of the UK government to bring in legislation. It was complacent and thought that existing legislation would cover WHS. It's finding that it was wrong. It's possibly finding that local authorities don't care and having pushed for WH ststus, hadn't a great deal of idea about what that meant in the way of protecting it, and given the lack of legislation, that's not easy. Management plans, adopted local policies all help, but in the end, it's down to the 'democracy' of local authorities.

    Did anyone ever seek a call-in and public inquiry for any of the current buildings?

  8. I must join in this debate. I know for a fact that a request was made for a public enquiry direct to the Secretary of State. This was referred to Government Office of the North West, who have an office in the Cunard Building. The request was refused. The land at Mann Island, adjacent to the Cunard Building, was owned by NWDA. The new museum is effectively run by the DCMS. Despite protests from concerned individuals, there was too much weight from vested interests to prevent the disaster on the waterfront. It would be helpful if Nemesis would put the same emphasis on Liverpool's plight as Edinburgh's. A letter to UNESCO would not go amiss.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Mr Swift has gien his permission to publish his correspondence

  11. But to get a public inquiry takes more than a request - it takes hard work, a major amount of campaigning, many, many letter writers saying exactly why a development is against national policies, which policies, and 'national concern'. There are always vested interests.

    There is a public inquiry starting this month in Lancaster - see That is a local group fighting the council and a major developer. But you have to work hard to fight at an inquiry too; the odds are stacked in favour of developers and councils, with cash to spend on barristers.

    There wasn't one for Caltonagte, again vested interests, and Historic Scotland behaving stupidly, but chickens are now coming home to roost. There has been one for the Haymarket Tower, but I think that was because of the UNESCO visit.

    I think Liverpool's plight is well known; but to get UNESCO to come again will take local people to write (300 plus wrote about Caltongate) to UNESCO, and even then it's too late now for Seville. It would have to be discussed next year, then a mission sent, and discussed again after that.

    SAVE has done what it can, with its Liverpool exhibition; Pathfinder has been fought with vigour; it's never easy. You don't always win, but you accept that you lose battles, and win others.

    It's the same in Bath; eventually there was a call-in for the Dyson school, although Dyson pulled out that was a major amount of vested interest! Churchill House and the building of the Busometer is a lost cause, but hopefully that eventually will be seen as the mistake it is, and the Western Riverside was refused a call-in, but the people of Bath are now hopeful that UNESCO will say it's not acceptable.

    Others are fighting for World Heritage; all need to share information, work together.

    'Heritage' is always bottom of the heap as far as governments are concerned. You have to keep reminding them it's important to many.

  12. David Swift is a tireless member of the public who has done so much work in alerting Unesco and the public to Liverpools plight I think his letter identifies the Cabal that is aparent here in Liverpool. Rt.Hon. Ms.R.Kelly M.P.,
    Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,
    Eland House,
    Bressenden Place,
    SW1E 5DU

    7th February 2007

    Dear Ms.Kelly,

    Re : World Heritage Site, Liverpool

    Unfortunately my previous correspondences to you on this matter have been diverted to Government Office for the North West (on the basis that it is a local planning matter).
    I attach my last letter of 8th December 2006 for reference.

    However, I must stress that UNESCO hold the State Party responsible for World Heritage sites in the United Kingdom. Therefore I believe your department has prevented you from looking at this case in detail. As a matter of courtesy to you I copy this letter to the Prime Minister since I believe that your authority may have been undermined without your knowledge.

    Once again I ask for a public enquiry into planning procedures being used by Liverpool City Council to the detriment of the World Heritage site, Liverpool.

    Thank you for your attention in this matter.

    Yours sincerely,

    David Swift

    Copy to :
    Tony Blair,
    10, Downing Street,

  13. But there is no mechanism hold a public inquiry into planning procedures, only into individual developments which have been passed by the council which you think contravene national and local policy. And once you have such an inquiry, you have to go along and fight, alongside any civic and community groups who will join with you.

  14. Nem You are getting on my nerves now...why dont you come to Liverpool and do the job it seems you know so much about and see what the job is like.

  15. I don't need to come, I know what it's like. It's the same in other places. No easier. But shooting the messenger doesn't help. Alienating those who have some insight isn't too good an idea. You have to work not in isolation.

  16. Yes, I do know a lot. But you aren't listening, are you? :-)

  17. Nem I am listening very carefully and granted you know a lot but believe me if you spent a couple of minutes listening to the facts surrounding Liverpool politics you would understand what Liverpools heritage and WHS problems are.

  18. Do you think it's any different in other places?

    Same sh*t, different name.

    Sounds like Dresden is going to be recommended for delisting as a WHS. That might concentrate a few minds.

  19. Latest revelations in Edinburgh today:

  20. I agree about Liverpool politics being the problem. The way LCC Planning Committee treat conservationists is apalling - whilst at the same time they facilitate terrible developments in the WHS. Any number of genuine appeals through the "correct" procedures have been sidetracked. Conservationists working together has been tried and has failed. The reason, as discussed many times, is that the NWDA, DCMS,EH and local authorities already WORK TOGETHER to make sure that there is no effective route for appeal. UNESCO know this but sit by and watch. The battle to retain our unique waterfront has been lost and I do blame UNESCO for its weakness.

  21. I go along with what Nem said - getting anybody to pay attention, let alone getting anything changed is a long slog. And progress is painfully slow, but some progress is better than none at all.

    UNESCO did send a Mission to Bath, but in order to do that a lot happened beforehand. We used the FOI Act to find out what DCMS told UNESCO about Bath, then we wrote to UNESCO ourselves with a multi-page critique of all the spin, and identified what they omitted, and identified their one or two pieces of wrong information - and we copied that to DCMS (DCMS got very grumpy about that!).

    We produced a detailed analysis of all the significant planning issues affecting Bath where EH gave wrong advice (and for each of those we made a formal complaint to EH), and where the council had not complied with the listed building or conservation area legislation.

    We wrote to DCMS complaining about their selection of EH commissioners who did not follow the legislation under which EH was set up. We copied our complaints to EH to DCMS but all we got back was an acknowledgement washing their hands of the problem. (We haven't yet reported DCMS to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, but we are considering it.)

    Once a Mission to Bath was agreed, we wrote a 120 page document which we gave to the Mission showing all the issues that we thought the council officials would avoid mentioning or would put their own spin on. We have followed that up with a brief for Seville - another 72 pages detailing all the decisions made since the Mission that were contrary to the planning legislation, along with a complete analysis of how well or badly the council have been in implementing their World Heritage Management Plan.

    Alongside all this is the campaign asking members of the public to make their own comments (don't bother with petitions, they only count as one complaint no mater how many people sign them. Get everybody who might be inclined to sign a petition to write in individually).

    Believe it or not, UNESCO and ICOMOS are worried about the cavalier attitude that the British State Party has towards its World Heritage, and the more evidence you can give them, the more effective their pressure can be. But it all takes time, and you have got to be prepared for the long haul.

    On a more positive note, the rubbish that has been built to ruin Liverpool is likely to fall down in 30 years, and then something more fitting can be campaigned for.

  22. Odd then that others can manage to do things, even when it seems the odds are stacked... I also still thaink you haven't got much of a handle on it all, nor on UNESCO.

  23. I hope you have better luck in Bath than we here in Liverpool. While the LCC (council) have produced a suplementary planning document for the next Seville session of the WH committee the NWDA sponsered developments just carried on going.
    I think the Credit Crunch may assist you in your plight we have been in a binge build mentality.
    Liverpool is now beyond progress with Unesco as the damage has been done and it has hurt me.
    The management plan that Unesco insisted upon was not prepared for two years by the DCMS while they all built the offending disasters.
    We may have updated Unesco on a monthly basis but as previously stated they have no power if the DCMS support a museum in the world heritage site and the NWDA fund it.
    The Countries richest man The Duke of Westminster was allowed to build exactly what he wanted...the wieght of power behind all this is in another league to anything I have known anywhere.
    It is the very people who should have been protecting us who did the damage.
    We could not have given them more evdence than we have to Unesco.
    I am afraid niether you or I will be fit enough to campain in 30 years time.
    I hope beautiful Bath escapes the fate that has befallen on Liverpool.

  24. Nem now you really are getting on my nerves.............

  25. But would you say any of the developments are actually illegal? Or are they complying with planning policies? We may not like the architecture, but WHS in cities are not intended to stand still.

    I don't see that a museum is a bad thing; I don't like the building, but there again, many may think it fine, and an addition to the waterfront.

    No-one in Bath is campaigning against, for example, the Western Riverside being developed; it's the details of that development, the height in particular, affecting the OUV, which is the problem.

    It's the same in Edinburgh; no-one objects to development on the old bus garage site, it's the demolitions they don't want.