UN issues warning over £5.5bn Liverpool scheme
Unesco has threatened to strip Liverpool of its world heritage status following the council’s decision to approve a multi-billion pound plan to regenerate the city’s derelict docklands.
The UN cultural body’s heritage committee warned Liverpool may lose the ‘outstanding universal value’ for which it was given world heritage status, at its annual meeting in St Petersburg this week.
The £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters development will regenerate the disused dockland north of the city centre to create a new waterfront quarter which will include 9,000 new homes, office space, a cultural building and a new cruise terminal.
Developer Peel Holdings also plans to build the controversial 55-storey Shanghai Tower, which will be the tallest UK building outside London.
Liverpool Council called the Unesco warning ‘premature’ as the government has not yet decided whether the application can go ahead.
A council spokesperson said: ‘The main concerns raised about heritage issues on Liverpool Waters will not become an issue for several years as they focus on later stages of the project – they will not be built for at least 10 years. Detailed plans may be subject to change before then.’
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson told Inside Housing: ‘We believe the safeguards which were put in place when it was considered by the planning committee will ensure that the world heritage site is protected. The city council is continuing to discuss the plans with the developers and other interested parties and have always firmly believed that Liverpool can retain its world heritage status while sensitively developing the derelict docklands.’
It is unclear at present if any affordable housing will be part of the 9,000 home new build scheme, which Peel Holdings says will create 20,000 jobs. On their website, the developer states:
‘It is likely that much of the residential homes in Liverpool Waters will be private, sold to private individuals. Peel is also conscious of the need to provide subsidised or affordable housing as part of its proposals, but is mindful of the major cost of providing this and the need to ensure that we not provide a similar housing offer to the adjoining housing market renewal areas.’
In March this year English Heritage formally objected to the plans. The scheme has been referred to communities secretary Eric Pickles who will decide whether to hold a public inquiry into the project.
Peel had a £4.5 billion sister project, Wirral Waters, approved in 2010 after Mr Pickles refused a public enquiry.
Liverpool, which was awarded its World Heritage status in 2004, was subject to a three-day visit by Unesco officers in November of last year.
Dresden was the first European city to lose its world heritage status over objections to the four-lane Waldschlösschen bridge in 2009.