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Liverpool can no longer measure up to the Giza pyramids

City booted off UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites

By Ricky Browne

Liverpool can no longer measure up to Egypt’s Giza Pyramids, as it has lost its UNESCO World Heritage status – thanks to controversial real estate developments on its waterfront.

The change in status shouldn’t come as a complete surprise as UNESCO put the city on a list of World Heritage Sites in Danger back in 2012. It was put on the list for the proposed construction of Liverpool Waters, a massive £5 billion redevelopment of the historic docklands just north of the city centre.

Liverpool can no longer measure up to the Giza Pyramids

But the development went forward, and in the end UNESCO said it decided to delete the property from the World Heritage List “due to the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property”.

The Liverpool City Council and the city’s major Joanne Anderson were not happy with the decision.

“Our World Heritage Site has never been in better condition, having benefitted from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment” said Anderson in a message ppsted on the Liverpool City Council’s twitter site.

Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson

“I’m really disappointed that UNESCO have come this decision” Anderson said in a video posted on her Twitter site: “It’s quite difficult for me to comprehend how UNESCO would rather empty dock sites rather the Everton Stadium at Bramley Moore Dock”.

But then it turned out that she was even more upset about something entirely different.

“Losing World Heritage Site status is a sad day for Liverpool, but what has made me angry is that my video statement has been used by The S*n. I did not – and would not – give them permission to use the video, and am instructing them to take it down,” the mayor tweeted.

Nevertheless, UNESCO did take that position, and as a result, no longer can the northern city, known for its grit, the Beatles and the glory of its architecture – much of it based on riches from the slave trade – compare itself to other World Heritage sites.

The proposed Everton Stadium

“Any deletion from the World Heritage List is a loss to the international community and to the internationally shared values and commitments under the World Heritage Convention,” UNESCO said.

Liverpool stood alongside Bath and Edinburgh (both the new town and the old town) as being the only other World Heritage cities n the UK.


Other UK sites are varied and include: Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Greenwich, Blenheim Palace, the Palace of Westminster and Canterbury Cathedral, Caemarfon Castle, St Augustines Abbey, Fountains Abbey, Kew Gardens, the Jurassic Coast and the Durham Castle and Cathedral.

The memory of Liverpool’s once vaunted position still flickers – if only momentarily —  on the World Heritage Centre/UNESCO site. But not without some shame, as its name and description have been crossed out. Underneath the straight grey line, can be seen what proudly stood before in its unblemished form before – Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City.

Blocked view? The ‘three disgraces’ … Canning dock, Liverpool. Photo: Carl Dickinson/Alamy Stock Photo

Some may wonder why the city ever had World Heritage status to begin with – first awarded back in 2004.

But the page outlines what it was about Liverpool that once made it so exceptional.

“Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of the maritime mercantile City of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries. Liverpool played an important role in the growth of the British Empire and became the major port for the mass movement of people, e.g. slaves and emigrants from northern Europe to America. Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management. The listed sites feature a great number of significant commercial, civic and public buildings, including St George’s Plateau.”

Another eye sore? The Carbuncle Cup-winning ferry terminal. Photo: Guardian/Oliver Wainwright

The page went into more depth.

“Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. A series of significant commercial, civic and public buildings lie within these areas, including the Pier Head, with its three principal waterfront buildings – the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, and Port of Liverpool Building; the Dock area with its warehouses, dock walls, remnant canal system, docks and other facilities related to port activities; the mercantile area, with its shipping offices, produce exchanges, marine insurance offices, banks, inland warehouses and merchants houses, together with the William Brown Street Cultural Quarter, including St. George’s Plateau, with its monumental cultural and civic buildings.”

But it was the continued development of the dock area with building such as a proposed new £500 million Everton football stadium, that caused the UNESCO team to vote that the status be removed from Liverpool.

Liverpool joins Dresden Elbe Valley in being delisted

On the UNESCO’s long list of 1,121  World Heritage Sites, Liverpool has the distinction of being one of only three sites that carry a note that they were delisted. One is Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany which was delisted in 2009. Another is the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman which was delisted in 2007. Last but not least is Liverpool, which carries the note “Delisted 2021”.

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was the first member of the delisted club

Apart from Edinburgh and Bath, there are some other cities that have the UNESCO World Heritage status. They include Venice, Vienna, Dubrovnik, Timbuktu in Mali and Old Havana.  

Other famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world include: the Great Wall of China, Venice, the Blue and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (which itself is under threat of losing its status), the Taj Majal in India, Macchu Pichu in Peru and the Grand Canyon.

Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains got UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2015



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