News Register for our weekly news digest here.

A view of the Liverpool waterfront. Photo: Beverley Goodwin/Flickr.
A view of the Liverpool waterfront. Photo: Beverley Goodwin/Flickr.

Liverpool’s Unesco World Heritage Status Yanked

Unesco officials have rescinded Liverpool’s status as a World Heritage Site, naming planned waterfront developments as leading to “irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value” of the historic docklands area. The decision, which was arrived at via secret ballot at a Unesco committee meeting taking place in Fuzhou, China, was decried by Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson as “incomprehensible.”

“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,” Anderson noted, vowing to work with the government to reobtain the coveted status.

Liverpool was named a World Heritage Site in 2004, moving into a realm occupied by China’s Great Wall, India’s Taj Mahal, and Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Unesco World Heritage Committee in 2012 warned the northwest England metropolis that it was in danger of losing its status owing to the proposed Liverpool Waters development, which the committee felt would “extend the city center significantly and alter the skyline and profile” of Liverpool’s docklands, which had initially won the accolade owing to their past as a major trading center of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The city went ahead with Liverpool Waters, and the committee cited the undertaking of that project as well as the construction of a new football stadium at Bramley Moore Dock as “fragment[ing] and isolat[ing] the different dock areas visually.”

“It’s quite difficult for me to comprehend how Unesco would rather have empty dock sites than the Everton stadium at Bramley Moore Dock,” said Anderson in a video posted to Twitter, characterizing herself as “really disappointed” by the committee’s decision.

Liverpool is only the third World Heritage Site to lose its status. Dresden, Germany’s Elbe Valley was deleted from the World Heritage List in 2009 following the start of construction on the four-lane Walsdschlössen Bridge in its center, and Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was delisted after the government shrank the sanctuary by 90 percent following the discovery of oil there. At the time of its delisting, the sanctuary was reported to be home to just four pairs of oryxes.