This Month finds Liverpool 2008 European Capital of Culture back before the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
We have unceremoniously been dumped on the Unesco World Heritage In Danger list (or as one man and his dog campaigner Larry Neild, on Liverpool Confidential website flippently calls it "The naughty step)".
Liverpool has been placed on the "In Danger" list along with the war torn city of Aleppo in Syria and various corrupted third world countries that can't maintain the World Heritage sites.
You could understand it from a poor country with little or no infrastructure but Liverpool it seems, wants to sell its WHS to the, well, lowest bidder really, Peel Holdings.
Who do not want the little problem of their land being hindered with Liverpool’s Mercantile and Maritime past which is why we were awarded WHS status in 2004.
June 16th sees the start of the Unesco World Heritage Committee meeting in Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
The UK Government has to show to the committee, as requested in the 36th committee meeting in St Petersburg meeting of 2012, proposals to get Liverpool off the World Heritage In danger list.
The threat is for inappropriate style development, after LCC passed plans for a 5.5 billion pound development, that appears to be pie in the sky, as nearly two years later not a single brick has been laid.
We got off with being placed on the Unesco “In Danger” list in 2007 by volunteering the Cities WHS status up to Unesco......... as a test case. to show how it can be developed, old and new in harmony.
And instead we find ourselves a basket case
We have tried to stimulate a debate that would see architectural styles discussed but what has happened is, the level of debate has been hijacked by Liverpool City Council and Peels PR companies, and that debate has descended into the usual, scouse humour slang off, charade, that only stifles constructive argument, and brings it down to a level that suits the developers.
There is no problem in developing this site in sensitive manner that looks for inspiration to cities like Amsterdam.
A city that seems educated and willing enough to take the time and trouble to engage its architecturally educated public instead of having slang off in the local press. Why cant Liverpool do this as Unesco ordered it to.
Unesco told Liverpool when we escaped, by a whisker, being placed on the “In Danger” list in 2006 that it must engage the public, not keep them in the dark .
Ron Van Ours of Unesco said that in the past, the problem was, that the Governments advisers English Heritage were supporting the schemes at the Pier Head and they could not go against them. He told told LPT and other delegates this, face to face.
Despite Sir Neil Cossons the Chairman of English Heritage, at the time working for Liverpool Museum who were developing the site, they were powerless.
Sir Neil was later given a whole Steam train exhibition to curate at the Walker Art Gallery.
Peel Holdings do not want us to have a world heritage site because it will impede their style of architecture.
The very style that saw them win Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup award of 2012 for Media City in Salford
This arrogant approach that Peel holdings have taken is in fact stopping development if they had come up with a scheme of any merit well we all would have welcomed their development,
But to propose to build Trafford Park-On-Mersey is a massive let down that those who know about architectural styles can support including EH,
Because it’s big and blingy does that suit this great city. With the clowns running the city is a debate even going to happen?
Do Peel Holdings have any finances for such a huge scheme?
This week saw Margeret Hodge call Peel Holdngs tax dodgers stating that most of their profits go offshore and we the taxpayers have funded massive profits for Peel to build Media City that they own and we have paid for. http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/we-are-not-tax-dodgers-say-peel.html
Their main Chinese partner Stella Shiu was recently exposed in Private Eye as a Hong Kong bankrupt and serious questions were asked about Sam Wa or as they should e know Sam Where, because it seems nobody knows anything about them. http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/stella-shiu-exposed-in-private-eye.html
Its all quite clever tactics to say we will back out of development but how serious are they about starting work.
A desired state of conservation is a sensible request from a cultural organisation.
It makes sense to show that we are a city that can combine old with new…well not if you look at the architectural anachronism that has become the Pier Head, the symbol of Liverpool’s Mercantile and Maritime past.
But here we still have an opportunity to get it right and don’t let this great city turn into Liver peel.
Is there an immediate risk of Liverpool losing WHS status?
Peel holdings don’t seem to have any capital it seems (unless its all hidden offshore). So what will Unesco do? What can they do?
It seems to me we will continue to have the shadow of removal of Liverpool from Unesco’s World Heritage List when tourism is increasingly becoming the cities main form of income.
This is an embarrassment that we cannot afford.
Would it not be common sense to make them build something the whole city can be proud of. We are not Shanghai, we inspired Shanghai’s waterfront.
Don’t let them turn our World Heritage Site into Milton Keynes-On-Sea.
We are assured that Liverpool is very much on the agenda for Unesco at this next WH Committee meeting
In a recent letter to the hardworking 'World Heritage Watchdog' David Swift from the office of Unesco WH Director Kishore Rao.
Subject: FW: Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom) (C 1180)
On behalf of Mr Kishore Rao, Director of the World Heritage Centre, I thank you for your message regarding the World Heritage property of “Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City”.
Please be assured that a report on the state of conservation of this property will be presented to the World Heritage Committee at its forthcoming 37th session. You can consult the relevant working document on the WHC’s website (http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2013/whc13-37com-7A-en.pdf ). When doing so, you will notice that the most recent information has been taken into account in the report.
If you wish to receive the State Party’s letter on the issue, I kindly suggest that you submit the request directly to the responsible UK authorities, i.e. DCMS represented by Ms Francesca Conlon who was on copy of your last email and whom I put on copy of this message as well.
I also like to take the opportunity to inform you that Ms Patricia Alberth has recently changed jobs. You are welcome to address any question or information to me or to Ms Petya Totcharova, head of the WHC’s Europe and North America Unit.
Thank you for your interest in and commitment to the safeguarding of World Heritage.
Kerstin A. Manz
UNESCO World Heritage Centre
F - 75352 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)18.104.22.168.02
35. Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 1150)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2004
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger 2012
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
The proposed development of Liverpool Waters
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
In progress Corrective measures identified
In progress Timeframe for the implementation of corrective measures
In progress Previous Committee Decisions
See page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/documents/
International Assistance N/AState of conservation of World Heritage properties WHC-13/37.COM/7A, p. 88 inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
Previous monitoring missions October 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; November 2011: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
a) Lack of overall management of new developments;
b) Lack of analysis and description of the townscape characteristics relevant to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and important views related to the property and its buffer zone;
c) Lack of clearly established maximum heights for new developments, for the backdrops of the World Heritage areas as well as along the waterfront;
d) Lack of awareness of developers, building professionals and the wider public about the World Heritage property, its Outstanding Universal Value and requirements under the World Heritage Convention.
Illustrative material See pages http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/gallery/ and http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc
Current conservation issues
On 30 January 2013, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property responding to the Decision 36 COM 7B.93 made by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012). On 27 March 2013, updated information on the decision of the Secretary of State was submitted by the State Party.
Proposed development of Liverpool Waters
It should be recalled that Liverpool Waters is a major, large scale development project that is planned to be implemented over a 30-year period in an area of 60 ha covering part of the inscribed property as well as part of its buffer zone. It stretches 2 km along the waterfront from Princes Dock up to Bramley Moore Dock and includes proposals for a cluster of tall buildings within the buffer zone.
In its report, the State Party recalled that the Liverpool City Council granted consent for the Liverpool Waters scheme, and indicated that this decision was referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government as a result of English Heritage’s objection to the scheme and because of the scale of the proposed development. The State Party also reported that the developer had informed that, in the event that the current proposal is not approved, it may decide to abandon attempts to regenerate the area and continue with current uses that do not require planning consent.
The State Party reported that the application was referred to the Secretary of State in October 2012. At the time of the submission of the State Party’s State of Conservation Report, no decision had yet been taken by the Secretary of State. On 27 March 2013, however, the State Party submitted additional information, reporting that the Secretary of State, on 4 March 2013, decided not to call in the case. With the decision not to intervene, there are no further legal obstacles to moving forward with the Liverpool Waters scheme. The Liverpool City Council may now confirm its consent for the development scheme and the developer could then proceed with implementation.
In its Decision 36 COM 7B.93, the Committee took note of the report of the joint reactive monitoring mission which had concluded that, in terms of visual perception, the redevelopment scheme would fragment and isolate the different dock areas, instead of integrating them into one continuous historic urban landscape. The mission therefore concluded that, if the proposed Liverpool Waters scheme as outlined were to be implemented, the World Heritage property would be irreversibly damaged due to a serious deterioration of its architectural and town-planning coherence, a serious loss of historical authenticity, and an important loss of cultural significance. It also noted that the proposed development in the buffer zone would result in the modification of the functional hierarchy State of conservation of World Heritage properties WHC-13/37.COM/7A, p. 89 inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and morphology expressed by the port circulation system (river – sluices – dock – water basins), as well as by the historical typologies of the port industrial structures and services, thus affecting the conditions of authenticity.
Noting the decision of the Secretary of State not to review the Liverpool Waters scheme at the national level, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recognize that there remains no legal obstacle to moving forward with the development project. They reiterate the findings of the joint reactive monitoring mission of November 2011, as expressed in the opinion of the World Heritage Committee in Decision 36 COM 7B.93, that the proposed development of Liverpool Waters constitutes a potential threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. They also note that there have been no actions to remove the potential danger as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session. They consider that if the proposed Liverpool Waters development is implemented as currently planned, it would irreversibly damage the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value and the conditions of integrity that warranted inscription, and could lead to the potential deletion of the property from the World Heritage List.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies further draw attention to the fact that the State Party has submitted neither a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOC), nor a proposal for corrective measures to reach that DSOC, as requested by the World Heritage Committee. In the supplementary information submitted on 27 March 2013, however, the State Party has expressed its willingness to work with the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to elaborate a DSOC and corrective measures with a time frame for their implementation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. In April 2013, consultations have been taken up by the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies accordingly. Taking into account the continued threat to the property, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 37 COM 7A.35
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A,
2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.93, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
3. Also recalling the results of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of November 2011,
4. Notes the information provided by the State Party that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decided not to call in the Liverpool Waters development for consideration at the national level, and that the Liverpool City Council had granted consent to the application submitted by the developer;
5. Reiterates its serious concern at the potential threat of the proposed Liverpool Waters development on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and also notes that the implementation of the development, as currently planned, would irreversibly damage the attributes and conditions of integrity that warranted inscription, and could lead to the potential deletion of the property from the World Heritage List;
State of conservation of World Heritage properties WHC-13/37.COM/7A, p. 90 inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
6. Therefore, strongly urges the State Party to reconsider the proposed development to ensure the continued coherence of the architectural and town-planning attributes, and the continued safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property including the conditions of authenticity and integrity;
7. Further notes that the State Party has not yet developed a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and a set of corrective measures and requests the State Party to pursue its consultations with the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to elaborate a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger along with a set of corrective measures, and a time frame for their implementation;
8. Decides to retain Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) on the World Heritage List in Danger; 9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above,
The letter from DCMS to Unesco is of course trying to mitigate the situation that the UK Government finds itself in.
A city being blackmailed by a company that Margeret Hodge calls tax dodgers and Jack Straw calls a lot of other things.
a city being run by uncultured idiots who care nothing about dealing Heritage and are prepared to turn a blind eye to ruthless companies motives and their habitual bending of the rules.
And maybe a populace who lack the culture or the drive to do anything about it nd sit on their hands.
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