Becoming The ICOMOS (2004, 130) report also highlighted that

Becoming
a WHS was a way in which stakeholders could showcase to the world that
Liverpool was once a global city, and thus could become one again due to its
dynamic and innovative mindset. The city’s tradition of innovative development
was one reason for its nomination. As stipulated, Liverpool’s success was due
to the port’s ‘determination to keep ahead of its international competitors in
the development and deployment of innovative technology’, it had always been a city
which prides itself on ideas and change (LOCUS Consulting Ltd, 2017, 86). Furthermore,
in its statement of significance, there is reference to the site being a
‘complete and integral urban landscape’ (LCC,
2003, 25). However, the ICOMOS Advisory Body report in 2004 omitted any
mention of it being a ‘urban landscape’ in its draft wording for the OUV
statement. As Rodwell (2015, 35) stipulates, this was a ‘serious oversight’ as
this wording was one of the factors which is contributing to the current
dissonance between UNESCO and principle stakeholders in the city. The ICOMOS (2004,
130) report also highlighted that not only was there a new construction being
planned in the centre of the port area next to the existing historical buildings,
but also that LCC was in the process of preparing a tall buildings policy, thus
indicating the need to ‘vigilantly monitor the development’. The fact that even
before the city was given WH status, ICOMOS was already calling for the need to
‘vigilantly monitor’ the developments highlights the growing concern by
heritage officials and the inevitable clash in visions for the future of the
city by ICOMOS, UNESCO and principle stakeholders. As Pendlebury et al. (2009,
354) stipulate, at the time of Liverpool nomination it was ‘apparent… that
extensive development was both anticipated and seen as desirable by the various
UK authorities’, therefore it should not have been alarming for UNESCO when
developments began to happen.

 

Nevertheless,
despite knowing that the city was in the process of regeneration and that plans
were being made for new developments, the importance of Liverpool’s built
heritage and historical role was recognised in 2004 by UNESCO. The designation
covers six areas, these being the Pier Head, the Albert Dock Conservation Area,
the Stanley Dock Conservation Area, Castle Street/Dale Street/ Old Street
Commercial Centre, William Brown Street Cultural Quarter and Lower Duke Street
(figure 1). It was granted status based on it being ‘the supreme example of a
commercial port at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence’ and was
inscribed on the list on the basis of criteria ii, iii and iv (ICOMOS, 2004
,130). As already indicated, there is no mention of the ‘urban landscape’
within the OUV. Instead, the basis is on the fact that the city was a ‘major
centre generating innovative technologies and methods in dock construction and
port management’ (ii), the fact that the city and the port are a ‘exceptional
testimony to the development of maritime mercantile culture’ (iii) and that it
is a ‘outstanding example of a world mercantile port city (iv). It is this
omission of the ‘urban landscape’ which is currently causing division amongst
the many stakeholders. However, it is important to remember that one of the
conditions on Liverpool’s WHS, imposed at the time of inscription, is that ‘the
height of any new construction in the WHS should not exceed that of structures
in the immediate surroundings’, as the landscape was deemed as being of
importance to the OUV of the site.

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Figure 1

 

First Mission, 2006

 

Concern
regarding development and regeneration was brought to the attention of UNESCO
in 2006. The ‘impact on the World Heritage property’ of the Museum of Liverpool
building on the Pier Head and three new buildings (i.e. Mann Island Project)
that were being planned on the waterfront next to the Three Graces led to the
first mission in 2006. Despite the concern of these developments and the
potential impact on the landscape and to the OUV of Liverpool’s WHS, the
mission concluded that the Museum of Liverpool and the Mann Island Project,
were not an imminent threat to the OUV and integrity of the site (WHC, 2006).
However, the report foresaw potential threats to the site and that the ‘world
heritage perspective’ had not been communicated and ‘sold’ to stakeholders,
thus indicating that the WH title was not being used to the full advantage by
local stakeholders managing the site (WHC, 2006). This is reflected by Jonathan
Brown who observed that even now, the most prominent site of its status is
found on a burger van, which is a sign of the status being used to economically
benefit the local community even if they themselves do not understand the OUV
of the site (appendix 1). The report also
concluded that LCC should ‘improve its methods’ for the management, and should
even introduce a stricter regime of planning control to address the height of
new buildings (WHC, 2006). This
report was significant as it did not coincide with local opinions of those
living in the city, again highlighting the lack of communication between local stakeholders
and UNESCO. Furthermore, as Rodwell (2014, 27) highlights, the report omitted any reference to the location of the
developments. It also neglected to comment critically on the ‘post-inscription
high-rise waterfront developments in the Prince’s Dock area of the buffer
zone’, which is significant as it contradicts the subsequent condemnation of
the Liverpool Waters project (Rodwell, 2014, 27-28).

 

                    As
a result of this mission, LCC published a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)
in 2009 to help provide guidance for development and conservation in the WHS
and Buffer Zone (LCC, 2009, 3). This document was created in order to ‘provide guidance for
protecting and enhancing’ the OUV of the WHS, whilst ‘encouraging investment
and development’, which would secure a ‘healthy economy and supports
regeneration’ (LCC, 2009, 1). This
document was not only published to help stakeholders better manage the site,
but to also showcase to UNESCO that the council was encouraging investment and
development to help the city’s economy to grow and develop. The document
provided detailed analysis and guidance on areas across the WHS and Buffer Zone.
Regarding the height of new buildings, the SPD states that LCC should consider
it important to ‘manage the height’ of new development and that such
development should not ‘adversely affect the character’ of the WHS (LCC,
2009, 70).

 

Liverpool Waters

 

Issues concerning management were brought to the
concern of UNESCO again with the proposal of Liverpool Waters, also known as ‘Shanghai-Liverpool’
in recognition of its twin city status in 1999, by Peel Holdings (Rodwell,
2015, 40). In 2005 Peel Holdings acquired the Mersey Docks
and Harbour Company and large sites in Liverpool’s North Docks and around the
‘Float’ dock system in Birkenhead (Shaw and Sykes,
2015, 63). Following this, in 2007 the company launched its £5.5 billion
investment program for Liverpool Waters which was presented as a long-term
strategy, with many of its ‘aspirations’ being ‘dependent on international
investment’ (Shaw and Sykes, 2015, 63). This indicates that the initial concern
was not the protection of heritage, but that of attracting international
investors, to promote the city to the world again. This scheme has been reported as the UK’s largest current development
proposal and the largest scheme considered anywhere affecting a WHS (Rodwell,
2015, 39).

 

The ‘scale, density, height and design’, of
the buildings in the initial proposal caused local and international concern
regarding how it would impact the skyline and Waterfront (Shaw and Sykes, 2015,
63). Liverpool Waters is the ‘redevelopment
of 60 hectares of historic docklands’, which is envisioned to create a
‘world-class, mixed-use waterfront quarter’ (Liverpool Waters, 2014, 10). This
regeneration scheme received outline planning permission in 2013 for over ‘315,000
sq.m. of quality office space, 53,000 sq.m. of hotel and conference facilities,
a new cruise liner terminal plus many more amenities including retail and
leisure facilities and parking’ (Liverpool Waters, 2014, 41). This regeneration
project is intended to promote the city back to a world class status, with the
main tower called the ‘Shanghai Tower’. As Attademo (2013, 165) notes, the
significance of this name will attract new investors in the ‘attempt to secure
the new image of the city’, highlighting that heritage and protecting the OUV
of the site was not the main concern for Peel Holdings. The intention is to
bring investment and life back into the city, allowing it to compete with other
cities in the UK and around the world.

 

Organisations
such as English Heritage and the Commission for
Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) have objected to some aspects of
the scheme, particularly the parts concerning tall buildings. In a
report commissioned by English Heritage in 2011 they warned that the new
buildings would have a negative impact on the OUV of the site (Bond, 2011).
Furthermore, in a statement they indicated that the setting of some of the
‘most significant historic buildings’, would be ‘severely compromised’ and that
the city’s ‘historic urban landscape will be
permanently unbalanced’ (Moore, May 2012). However, it is important to
remember that ‘urban landscape’ was omitted from the justification for the OUV
of the site, therefore it should not affect this. CABE have commented that the
plan is ‘generic and vague’, (Brown, March 2013)
suggesting that it will not promote and create a
unique identity for Liverpool. The scheme is even dividing local
opinion. As Shaw and Sykes (2015, 64) highlight, an increasing number of
residents living in converted warehouses adjacent to Liverpool Waters are
‘growing concerned’ that the new developments will ‘limit their views to the
waterfront’.

 

Due
to the scale of the project, and tensions between stakeholders, a second
mission (influenced by the Historic Urban Landscape approach) was sent to
Liverpool in 2011. The recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape was
adopted on 10 November 2011 by UNESCO’s General Conference. This approach
recognises the fact that cities are continually growing with historic layering
being the key driver to this approach (figure 2). Within the report, the state
party is asked to ‘to ensure’ that Liverpool Waters proposals are ‘not
approved, as failure to do so could lead to consideration of loss of the
Outstanding Universal Value of the property’ (WHC, 2011, 5). However, this is
problematic to ask of a city which encourages regeneration. This report also
addresses the developments which were previously brought to attention in the
first mission. It stated that these developments were ‘positive’, highlighting
the fact that regeneration is not necessarily a bad thing (WHC, 2011, 2). In
fact, the Museum of Liverpool has now won many awards, including the highly
acclaimed Council of
Europe Museum Prize for 2013 (Museum of Liverpool, 2018). Overall, the report concluded that Liverpool
Waters ‘would irreversibly damage the attributes of OUV and conditions of
integrity of the property’, thus leading to Liverpool’s WHS being placed on the
List of World Heritage in Danger in 2012 (WHC, 2011, 15).