Monday, 28 November 2011

Jonathan Glancey on The Threat To Liverpool's World Heritage Site From Liverpool Waters.

Mersey monotony? … an artist's impression of Peel Holding's Liverpool Waters scheme
"Life goes on day after day/Hearts torn in every way." You can just hear Gerry Marsden singing Ferry Cross the Mersey back when Liverpool was one of the world's best loved cities. Imagine if Ferry Cross the Mersey was remade in 2015 and, instead of the Liver Building, Pier Head and working docks, the backdrop was an almighty prickle of skyscrapers and other schlock shipped in from anywhere except Merseyside itself.
More than hearts may be torn if the city gives the go-ahead to the titanic and controversial £5.5bn Liverpool Waters project proposed by property developers Peel Holdings. Unesco is so angry with what its inspectors have seen of the designs that it has threatened – and not for the first time – to strip Liverpool's city centre of its World Heritage Site status. While in other parts of the world this would matter, Liverpool – to judge from comments made in the local media – doesn't appear to care what Unesco thinks.
What matters more than heritage, it seems, is shopping and new jobs in new shops. Liverpool is no museum: it wants a global skyscrapers and luxury brands. This is a little unfair, yet the city – architecturally a curate's egg (even around Giles Gilbert Scott's magisterial cathedral should aim a lot higher than the glossy banality of Liverpool Waters. A concern for local heritage proves just how innovative and memorable the city's architecture has been, whether in the design of the Three Graces, the Albert Docks or Freddie Gibberd's space capsule-style Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. Why give up the ghost?
Meanwhile, and aside from a new generation of ultra-modern factories, shipyards, skilled jobs, schools and whatever local people suggest, what Liverpool needs is close attention to its housing stock and to its dilapidated inner suburbs.

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