State of Conservation
Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City
(United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
- Commercial development
- High impact research / monitoring activities
- Interpretative and visitation facilities
- Legal framework
- Management systems/ management plan
- Society's valuing of heritage
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Governance: Lack of overall management of new developments
- High impact research/monitoring activities: Lack of analysis and description of the townscape characteristics relevant to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and important views related to the property and its buffer zone
- Legal framework: Lack of clearly established maximum heights for new developments, for the backdrops of the World Heritage areas as well as along the waterfront
- Social/cultural uses of heritage: Society’s valuing of heritage, lack of awareness of developers, building professionals and the wider public about the World Heritage property, its Outstanding Universal Value and requirements under the World Heritage Convention (understanding of heritage values)
- Buildings and development: Commercial development, housing, interpretative and visitor facilities
- Lack of adequate Management system/management plan
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
The proposed development of "Liverpool Waters"
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**
October 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2011: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2015: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
On 28 November 2016, the State Party transmitted a proposed Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and a set of corrective measures, and on 25 January 2017, submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/documents. The report reiterates the commitment of all stakeholders to safeguarding the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and provides information on the following issues:
- validity of the planning consent for Liverpool Waters until 2042;
- progress on the development of a new Local Plan, and consequent planned update of the Supplementary Planning Document;
- proposed submission of an updated and revised World Heritage Site Management Plan for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
- continued effort by the State Party to work in partnership with Liverpool City Council (LCC), Historic England and developers to ensure that planning decisions are informed by Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) and that development will be permitted only where it does not adversely affect OUV;
- LCC’s endeavors to focus on public consultations and establish public awareness programmes about the City’s built heritage and OUV;
- Proposed and approved developments.
The report indicates that within the United Kingdom’s legislative framework, the State Party is unable to accede to the Committee’s request to limit the granting of planning permissions.
The proposed DSOCR recalls previous Committee decisions, the 2010 Statement of OUV, and the findings of the 2011 and 2015 missions. It identifies methodological approaches and indicators to monitor OUV (physical protection, protection of setting of the attributes and the historic urban landscape) for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. It further proposes corrective measures, including updating planning tools and drafting detailed Neighborhood Master Plans and provides information on ongoing public consultation, procedures for adoption of revised instruments, corrective measures for specific projects and ongoing public/private agreements (Central docks underground parking; Princes Dock high rise buildings). The proposed DSOCR also indicates the State Party’s intention to assess/approve new developments within the property and its buffer zone despite the absence of key guidance of the future Neighborhood Master Plans.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017
Regarding the DSOCR, the first draft DSOCR was prepared by the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS and transmitted to the State Party on 29 April 2013. A year later on 15 April 2014, the State Party submitted a new draft DSOCR, which was considered by ICOMOS as a statement of process. This DSOCR was presented at the 38th session of the Committee (Doha, 2014) and the State Party expressed its willingness to pursue consultations with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in view of its finalization. Following the invitation of the State Party, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission (24-25 February 2015) provided recommendations on the content of the DSOCR and concluded that if the Committee endorsed the recommendations and was concerned with the loss of OUV due to the scale of developments, it should consider possible delisting of the property. At its 39th session (Bonn, 2015), the Committee requested the State Party to submit a revised DSOCR by 1 December 2016.
The November 2016 DSOCR still does not specify a desired state of conservation, nor provide appropriate corrective measures. The methodological approach focuses on processes and assumes that the steps of the process must align with the timing of the State Party’s development consent process. As noted by the Committee at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), the final DSOCR should precede finalization of the planning tools and regulatory framework, as these should be part of the corrective measures.
In order to achieve a DSCOR that sets out a state of conservation to be achieved and the corrective measures necessary to achieve that state, the November 2016 DSOCR would need to be revised to:
- Respond to the Committee’s 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) requests, and the recommendations of the 2015 mission and 2017 ICOMOS’ technical review;
- Acknowledge the importance of protecting key attributes of OUV and the significance of the context of the property and its buffer zone, define and protect important views, support a consistent approach for development processes within the property, its buffer zone and its wider context, and link the strategic city development vision to regulatory planning which provides clear guidelines on protection of OUV;
- Include adopted Neighborhood Master Plans specifying actual heights and built form envelopes for new development, and comprehensive documentation regarding the integration of public-private investment management.
However, since 2013, the DSOCR has been pending and no corrective measures have been adopted. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to clarify by 1 February 2018, whether or not such a revised DSOCR can be defined and considered for adoption at its 42nd session in 2018.
At the time of inscription of the property at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004), the Committee recommended that particular attention be paid to monitoring the process of change within the property. The Committee has repeatedly expressed its serious concerns over the potential threat of the proposed Liverpool Waters development and noted that as planned it would irreversibly damage the attributes of OUV and conditions of integrity. At its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011) the Committee noted the conclusions of English Heritage’s Impact Assessment on the damaging negative impact of the Liverpool Waters scheme on the OUV of the property. However, outline planning consent was given in 2013 despite all previous Committee recommendations and requests. At its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively, the Committee therefore already considered possible deletion due to the potential threat brought by Liverpool Waters development to the OUV, including authenticity and integrity of the property.
In its 2017 report the State Party indicated that within the United Kingdom’s legislative framework it is unable to accede to the Committee’s request to limit the granting of planning permissions.
Although no new detailed planning applications were submitted in 2016 for the Central Docks, development applications were approved within the property and buffer zone, including a 34-storey tower at Princes Dock that is part of the Liverpool Waters scheme. The World Heritage Centre was notified after permission was granted and no Heritage Impact Assessment was transmitted. In cases where Heritage England has raised concerns, the World Heritage Centre was notified, but details were not provided.
A final draft of the Liverpool Local Plan is to be submitted in mid-2017. Following the adoption of the new Local Plan, the World Heritage Site (WHS) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is to be reviewed and updated. Detailed Neighborhood Master Plans for the Princes Dock and King Edward areas are being prepared.
Clearly defined attributes that contribute to OUV and substantive commitments to limitations on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form are required. The strategic city development vision needs to be linked to a regulatory planning document, which provides legal guidelines allowing for review of the Liverpool Waters planning application and managing the property with a consistent approach to avoid ‘project by project’ evaluation of proposals. This highlights the need to align the obligations of the State Party and LCC with appropriate planning mechanisms that protect OUV.
In view of the above analysis, it is recommended that the Committee expresses its deep concern that the projects already approved as well as those approved in outline have actual and potential highly adverse and irreversible impacts on the OUV of the property. Therefore, it is also recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger but consider its deletion from the World Heritage List at its 42nd session in 2018, if the State Party does not reverse course and stop the granting of planning permissions which have a negative impact on the OUV of the property, provide substantive commitments to limitation on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form, link the strategic city development vision to a regulatory planning document, and lastly provide a DSOCR and corrective measures that could be considered for adoption by the Committee.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.22
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
- Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7A.35, 38 COM 7A.19, 39 COM 7A.43, and 40 COM 7A.31, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015), and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively,
- Notes with regret that the implementation of the Liverpool Waters scheme has started with the granting of planning permission for a 34 storey tower at Princes Dock and that the State Party acknowledges that it cannot accede to the Committee’s request to limit granting of further planning permissions that impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
- Considers that the recent planning permissions at Liverpool Waters scheme and elsewhere, and the stated inability of the State Party to control further developments clearly reflect inadequate governance systems and planning mechanisms that undermine protection and management and therefore fail to sustain the OUV of the property;
- Recalls that it has repeatedly expressed its serious concerns over the impact of the proposed Liverpool Waters development, as it would irreversibly damage the attributes of OUV and conditions of integrity of the property; and also recalls that it already considered possible deletion of the property (Decisions 36 COM 7B.39 and 37 COM 7A.35) due to the potential threat brought by Liverpool Waters development to the OUV, including the authenticity and integrity of the property;
- Although noting that the State Party has proposed a draft Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), also regrets that this draft does not provide a comprehensive desired state of conservation nor appropriate corrective measures, and remains a statement of process instead of acknowledging the importance of protecting key attributes which contribute to the OUV of the property, and the significance of the context of the property and its buffer zone;
- Notes that all stakeholders recognize the serious concerns of the World Heritage Committee over the potential threat of the Liverpool Waters development scheme to the OUV of the property;
- Requests the State Party to clarify whether a further DSOCR can be defined in line with previous recommendations and further recalls that submission of a further draft of the DSOCR by the State Party and its approval by the Committee should come prior to the finalization and approval of the necessary planning tools and regulatory framework;
- Also requests the State Party to submit, only if it confirms the feasibility of revising the draft DSOCR in line with previous committee’s recommendations, a revised draft of the DSOCR to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2018, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, as requested in Decision 40 COM 7A.31, and to include the approval of the Local Plan and the revised Management Plan as part of the agreed implementation plan for the corrective measures;
- Further requests the State Party to progress in the establishment of clearly defined attributes that contribute to OUV and substantive commitments to limitation on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form and linking the strategic city development vision to a regulatory planning document, which provides legal guidelines on protection of OUV;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018, with a view to considering the deletion of this property from the World Heritage List at its 42nd session if the State Party does not:
- Reverse course and stop the granting of planning permissions which have a negative impact on the OUV of the property,
- Provide substantive commitments to limitation on the quantity, location and size of allowable built form,
- Link the strategic city development vision to a regulatory planning document,
- Submit, lastly, a DSOCR and corrective measures in a form that might be considered for adoption by the Committee;
- Decides to retain Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).