A new year, an old controversy: UNESCO return their verdict on Liverpool Waters

by Martin

The Pier Head, Liverpool, from the Museum of Liverpool

Well, 2012 is just getting started, but UNESCO have set off the first fireworks in this year’s battle over the north docks.

After visiting the city in November, the UN inspectors are claiming that, should

Peel’s plans go ahead, it would cause a “serious loss of historical authenticity“.

While UNESCO’s opinions are not a surprise to anyone who’s been following this story from the start, now that a formal response has been received it is up to Liverpool City Council and Peel to respond. English Heritage have also said that they would be happy to become involved “if invited”.

The magazine Seven Streets has published a number of articles on the Peel plans, on both sides of the argument (if I’ve read them right). All are worth reading, but the most recent one (by Robin Brown) especially so It highlights a few key things about the whole slanging match (as do the comments):

What the Seven Streets article does identify is that the tone of the argument against the WHS has probably been deliberately skewed (towards such things as ‘outsiders’ coming in and stealing our investments) in order to rid the city of a perceived barrier to further development. This doesn’t produce a useful long term solution, but then perhaps not everyone is so keen on one.

2 responses to “A new year, an old controversy: UNESCO return their verdict on Liverpool Waters”

  1. Robin says:

    The agendas on the business side aren’t really hidden – some lobby groups in Liverpool are quite clear in their desire to limit – or do away with – the WHS. Peel have, possibly coincidentally, handed them a useful means by which to further that aim.

    As for the heritage lobby I dont think there is any agenda at work. Bit I do think that some elements will likely set their faces against new development, regardless of merit.

    I just hope common sense prevails and we get the best of both worlds.

    • Martin says:

      Thanks for the comment, Robin. Perhaps you’re right – the motivations on the business side are not hidden, especially when coming from the Council too. I just wonder whether the longer term effects of removing the WHS status are clear in the minds of those members of the public whose comments are pro-development. There’s a lot of support for the Peel scheme, but I’d like to see it go ahead in some form while keeping the WHS. After all, these designations are meant to ensure proper scrutiny of plans, not a blockade of them.

      As you say, common sense will see the best of both worlds come about: I think that means developments operating within the heritage protection system (and not despite it, nor at the cost of its removal)

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