1.         Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 1150)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2004

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

October 2006: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Urban development pressure;

b) New constructions in the area surrounding the property;

c) Lack of strategic plans for future development that set out clear strategies for the overall townscape and for the skyline and river front taking into account the townscape characteristics and important views related to the property and its buffer zone;

d) 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;

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1150/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

At its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) the World Heritage Committee noted the progress that had been made in developing supplementary planning guidance which will clearly establish and respect prescribed heights; define the townscape characteristics, wider values (building density, urban patterns and materials) and sense of place; suggest how design briefs can incorporate characteristics and qualities of the property. The World Heritage Committee also noted that work has been undertaken to raise the profile of the property and inform the general public about its Outstanding Universal Value and its management. It urged the State Party to complete and approve the Supplementary Planning Document as soon as possible, and to supplement this Document with the development of strategic plans for the overall townscape and for the skyline and river front – as highlighted by the 2006 World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission and reinforced by the comments of the Urban Panel – in order to achieve the highest quality, and to ensure sustainable development.

The State Party submitted a report on 1 February 2009 which offered an update on the developments of the new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Liverpool. The report confirms that proposed buildings which are tall in relationship to others in the immediate vicinity should not be allowed within the World Heritage property. It noted that this formalises the policy that had been applied in practice since inscription, and fulfils the condition of inscription under paragraph 3a) of the World Heritage Committee’s Decision 28 COM 14B.49. It also states that the public consultation daft SPD provides guidance on developments within the defined setting of the World Heritage property and recognises that the emerging cluster of tall buildings to the north-east of the Pier Head, and on the southern gateway to the city, should be regarded as acceptable locations for further tall buildings subject to strict criteria on the basis that they will not have an adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, nor on key views of or within it, and are therefore likely to be permitted. The guidance in the SPD is that tall buildings in other parts of the setting will be inappropriate and discouraged.

The State Party indicates that the SPD also addresses the management issues raised by the Committee in paragraphs 3(b) and 4(b) of Decision 31 COM 7B.21 and paragraph 3b and 3c of Decision 32 COM 7B.115 concerning the analysis and description of townscape characteristics relevant to the Outstanding Universal Value, important views and the need to adhere to these characteristics, wider values and sense of place.

The detailed character analysis and supplementary planning guidance for Lower Duke Street and the wider Ropewalks areas, published in 2005 will be cross referred to the SPD for the wider World Heritage property. The work confirms that the World Heritage properties do not have an overall harmony of urban design and that this is an important characteristic as it represents the organic growth of the city over 800 years, thereby embracing a wide range of building materials and styles. The SPD adopts the challenge of setting out a policy framework which will allow this diversity of character to flourish whilst being sufficiently robust to ensure that development does not respond adequately to the historic context is not allowed.

The State Party reports that action is being taken to ensure that Design Briefs and Master Plans for new development take into account the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property. Much successful work along the waterfront has already been based upon comprehensive master plans for large development sites. This issue is partly covered by the SPD in relation to the overall townscape, and the protection of the skyline and waterfront, through offering principles to inform the preparation of development briefs and design proposals. In addition, the SPD places responsibility on applicants to demonstrate that their proposals have responded to the appropriate context.

Initiatives taken by the Liverpool City Council and other partners during 2008 include -

- Publication of books by English Heritage on Liverpool's Historic Environment;

- Organization of a major international conference on Culture, heritage and regeneration of port cities, held in November 2008. Proceedings will be published in due course;

- Participation in International World Heritage Day with tours and the launch of a "Uncover a UNESCO World Heritage" interactive CD;

- Joining a network of 10 European cities in the EU funded URBACT project Heritage as an opportunity aimed at developing and sharing good practice in the preparation of integrated cultural heritage management plans;

- Holding a Royal Institute of British Architects symposium in April 2008 to help architects understand the implications of World Heritage inscription;

- English Heritage's continued commitment (exemplar Historic Environment of Liverpool Project);

- National Museums Liverpool’s commemoration of the involvement in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and in opening the new International Slavery Museum at Albert Dock. It is currently developing World Heritage content for the forthcoming Museum of Liverpool.


The Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) was commissioned by Liverpool City Council in 2007 with financial support of others at a cost of £110,000. When available in March 2009 a copy will be sent to the World Heritage Centre.

The State Party reports that whilst it was not possible to finalise the draft SPD in time for the World Heritage Committee's 32nd session a text-only draft has now been approved by Liverpool City Council in December 2008 for public consultation in March 2009. In the interim, the draft SPD has been adopted for the purposes of development control, and a fully illustrated final version is expected to be sent to the World Heritage Centre in March 2009. The State Party notes the World Heritage Committee's Paragraph 4c of Decision 31 COM 7B.121 concerning public understanding about the management of the site, and will allow appropriate time for public consultation on this statutory document. On the current programme, the final version of the SPD is expected to be formally adopted by Liverpool City Council before the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2009.

The SDP guidance which relates to the property and its buffer zone covers the following issues: General Design Guidance, Public Realm, Views to, from and within the property, Riverside Development, Tall buildings, Dock Water Spaces;

The guidance which relates solely to the property covers: Building Heights in the property; Replacement of existing buildings; Re-use of historic buildings; Historic Buildings at Risk; Roof-scapes and Attic Extensions; Archaeology; Conservation Works.

The State Party reports that the SPD provide specific guidance on the need to consider the waterfront as a whole and to protect the skyline. It also confirms that the relationship between the River Mersey and the property is a fundamental aspect of its Outstanding Universal Value.

The State Party also reports on progress on the improvement of the protection of World Heritage properties in England through changes to the planning system, including the draft Heritage Protection Bill. In the meantime a number of reforms to the system are being pursued without the need for legislation including:

a) From 1 October 2008 World Heritage properties have been included in Article 1(5) land designation in the General Permitted Development Order. This means that certain permitted development rights are withdrawn to give more control over small-scale changes which could incrementally have an adverse effect on Outstanding Universal Value;


b) The Department for Communities and Local Government will introduce in Spring 2009 specific notification and call-in requirements for significant development affecting World Heritage properties where English Heritage have objected on the grounds that a proposed development could have an adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value and significance of a World Heritage property and has been unable to withdraw that objection following discussions. This will bring cases of potential international significance to the attention of government ministers;


c) A new planning circular on World Heritage with an accompanying English Heritage guidance note is due to be published in Spring 2009. These documents will emphasise the key role planning authorities have in protecting World Heritage properties through policies in regional and local level Plans;


d) An announcement on timetable regarding the development of new overall guidance on protection of the historic environment is currently being drafting. A draft Historic Environment Planning Policy Statement will be put to public consultation in 2009.


The State Party indicates that Liverpool City Council, working closely with English Heritage, is committed to ensuring that these respect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Account is taken of local, national and international planning frameworks.

The State Party reports that a new Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West, was published in September 2008. This includes policy statements on Historic Environment, Landscape and Historic Areas.

The State Party reports that on addressing the concerns regarding omissions from national statutory lists, during 2008 a further 6 listings have been made, adding a further 17 buildings to the list of protected buildings in, or immediately adjacent to the property.

The State Party also intends submitting an expanded Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for consideration of endorsement.

Regarding the interim report following the joint mission in 2006 the State Party wished to report progress during 2008 on a number of schemes and other proposals, including:

Museum of Liverpool: Following a late 2007 decision to clad the building with Jura limestone a new planning application was submitted and approved. Cladding the building with the new material has now almost been completed;


Princes Dock: With planning permission for the 22 storey Alexandra Tower in Plot 12 given in 2004, construction was effectively completed during 2008. This approval set a precedent for tall buildings in the Princes Dock complex, resulting in further approval being given for a 34 storey building on Plot 3A in June 2007. Whilst the view of the State Party was that this did not damage the Outstanding Universal Value, the proposal has been abandoned for the foreseeable future due to the current economic climate. There are no further proposals for tall buildings on Princes Dock, and none are anticipated. A proposed development, New World Square, for Plot 7 has been approved following a full consultation but its height has been kept below the cornice of the Liver Building. Before any site work has commenced, it is understood that this proposal has also been abandoned for the foreseeable future;


Mann Island: The commercial development on Mann Island on the south side of the Pier Head has commenced. The 2006 mission concluded that this development would not compromise the Outstanding Universal Value;


Pier Head: The new Mersey Ferry Terminal building is nearing completion, and has been clad with limestone to match the Cunard Building. The canal link between Princes Dock and Canning Dock is due for completion in January 2009. To complement the canal, Museum and Ferry Terminal, the public piazza has been comprehensively enhanced using natural materials and conserving monuments, and was formally opened in October 2008;


King's Dock Area: The Conference Centre and area to the south of the Pier Head was opened in January 2008;


Liverpool 1 (the Paradise Project): This is the single biggest regeneration project in Liverpool, partly within the property and partly in the buffer zone. Development proposals were shown to the 2006 mission, with Phase 1 opening in May 2008 and Phase 2 in October 2008. This successful project has already received a number of national regeneration and planning awards. The preservation, conservation and interpretation of Old Dock was negotiated as part of the planning permission. Old Dock has now been fully recorded and developers have created access facilities to the below-ground dock. The archaeological information is currently being assessed and analyzed and is anticipated to give further knowledge in support of one of the original criteria for inscription. This knowledge will be shared with the wider community and discussions are currently under way regarding public access to the archaeology;


Concourse House: The 2006 mission commented positively on the proposal to create a gateway at Lime Street through the demolition of a 1960s tower and shops. Demolition commenced in late 2008, but the replacement with a new tall building will no longer proceed being economically non-viable;


King Edward Tower: A planning application for a 54 storey tower in the buffer zone was submitted in June 2007, but has not yet been determined. The City Council is aware that it should be referred to the State Party for consideration. Following expressed concerns, it is expected that the original plans will be significantly amended. The intended site is within the area identified in the emerging SPD as being suitable, in principle, for tall buildings;


Peel Holdings: In spring 2007 Peel published an ambitious vision for the redevelopment of Birkenhead Docks and Central Docks (partly in the property and buffer zone) with a large cluster of tower blocks up to 50 storeys high. The visualisation is only conceptual and much further study and negotiations are required before a planning application could be considered. It is understood that Peel Holdings have continued to undertake studies of the site but the production of the resulting master plan is being deferred until the emergence of the SPD to ensure compatibility with the guidance. The authorities expect the vision to change significantly as a result of this process;


Restoration on historic buildings: It is reported that a number of structures within the World Heritage property and its buffer zone have undergone, or were undergoing, restoration since the 2008 Report, including ongoing restoration of the Port of Liverpool Building, Internal restoration of the Cunard Building, internal restoration of the Liver Building, Exchange Flags Building, the former Liverpool and London Insurance Co Building, the former Heywood’s Bank Building, several properties in Rope Walks;


Significant progress has been made in dealing with buildings at risk throughout the city including within the property, including the Fruit Exchange, Stanley Dock, and Royal Insurance Building. The Townscape Heritage Initiative for Buildings at Risk is making steady progress on buildings in the Rope Walks area with grant-aided restoration schemes. A priority list of 44 properties has been drawn up and will be subject to consideration for urgent works notices and repair notices;


The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that progress has been made with the development of the Supplementary Planning Document, and the final draft version is due to be launched for public consultation in March 2009. A number of positive steps have been taken to address the lack of public and professional awareness regarding the property and it’s Outstanding Universal Value. Action is also being taken to ensure that future Design Briefs and Master Plans take the Outstanding Universal Value into account.


Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.130

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.115, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Notes the detailed information provided by State Party and particularly:

a) The development of the new Supplementary Planning Document addresses the management issues raised by the World Heritage Committee in paragraphs 3b and 4b of Decision 31 COM 7B.121 and paragraph 3b and 3c of Decision 32 COM 7B.115,

b) The final version of the Supplementary Planning Document is expected to be formally adopted by Liverpool City Council in June 2009,

c) The revised Evidential Report will be provided to the World Heritage Centre when available,

d) Progress on the improvement of the protection of World Heritage properties in England through changes to the planning system,

e) Preparation of an expanded Statement of Outstanding Universal Value,

f) The initiatives taken by the Liverpool City Council and other partners during 2008, particularly regarding the national statutory lists;

4. Requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed on progress on the issues above.