Liverpool retains UNESCO World Heritage Site status

Liverpool, News, Planning, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK


But Liverpool Maritime City remains on the “Sites in Danger” list. This is one outcome of the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee held in Bahrain. You can read more on this in articles written for Place North West here and for the Liverpool Echo here. World Heritage UK’s position on this issue can be found in its recent press release.

The matter of the ‘setting’ of a number of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites will be comprehensively discussed at World Heritage UK’s 4th Annual Conference in September, this year to be held at the Tower of London. Registration details for this major event will be available shortly.

World Heritage UK Welcomes Change of Mood on Liverpool’s World Heritage Site

Advocacy, Announcement, Culture, Liverpool, News, Planning, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

Liverpool World Heritage Site Credit: Wikipedia commons


Liverpool’s World Heritage Site has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites ‘in danger’ since 2012.  UNESCO’s primary concern has centred on the tall buildings in the ‘Liverpool Waters’ development proposal, put forward by Peel Holdings, which was given outline planning permission in 2012.  The perceived negative impact of these proposed tall buildings was on long distance views of the Liverpool skyline from the other bank of the Mersey.  Of particular concern, it appears, were the tall buildings proposed for the former Clarence Dock site, which is within the World Heritage Site buffer zone.

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World Heritage UK, the body representing all 31 UK World Heritage Sites, is aware that in response to UNESCO’s concerns, Liverpool City Council and Peel Holdings have together recently taken three positive initiatives to minimise the risk of Liverpool losing World Heritage Status and to ultimately take it off the ‘endangered’ list.  These include a new high level task force to raise the profile of the World Heritage Site and address the concerns raised by UNESCO; a ‘Desired State of Conservation Report’ to set out their view of the city’s World Heritage status as it stands; and a review of the master plan for the Liverpool Waters area, where in fact no new development has actually taken place since outline permission was granted in 2012.

From its national perspective, World Heritage UK warmly welcomes all these initiatives and believes that they signal a genuine change of mood in Liverpool.  On behalf of all of the UK’s World Heritage Sites, we ask UNESCO to open a process of constructive dialogue with the UK Government and Liverpool’s stakeholders, in the hope that this will lead to a change in the position they have previously taken on Liverpool’s World Heritage Site.  We further hope that, as the ‘State Party’, the Government will fully engage with the process, thus enabling then to fulfil their international obligations and responsibilities under the World Heritage Convention for the protection and enhancement of the outstanding universal value of all the UK’s World Heritage Sites, not least Liverpool.

As Liverpool’s ‘Desired State of Conservation Report’ notes, there has been spectacular progress in restoring Liverpool’s historic buildings, in the World Heritage Site and beyond. The number of heritage ‘buildings at risk’ has been reduced to only 2.75% of the building stock – far below the UK national average. The restoration of the once derelict Stanley Dock for a new hotel and residential accommodation is a shining example of achievement and work in progress.

World Heritage UK has been briefed on the initial work on Peel’s revised masterplan for Liverpool Waters.

Chris Blandford, World Heritage UK President, said: ‘Whilst the revised plan is still at an early stage, we believe that it has the potential to deliver a far more coherent, sensitive and appropriate development form, one which better respects the Site’s outstanding universal value, and is better integrated with Stanley Dock and the adjacent Ten Streets regeneration area’.

Sam Rose, World Heritage UK Chair, said: ‘Cities grow and change, as they always have done, and there will always be conflicts and tensions in the protection of the outstanding universal value of urban World Heritage Sites. We see no situation that is not resolvable with early and constructive dialogue, and we encourage that now in the case of Liverpool.  It would be a big loss for the outstanding heritage of the UK, and for the people and businesses of Liverpool if this iconic city was to lose its deserved global status’.

The UK has six World Heritage Sites that fall into the ‘cities’ theme, the largest and most complex three being Bath, Edinburgh and Liverpool.


Awards, Celebration, News, Planning, Uncategorized

Liverpool- John Hickey-fryLIVERPOOL has become the UK’s first “Heritage Role Model” – after being chosen to help spearhead Europe’s biggest drive to develop historic city centres.

Liverpool is one of ten cities – and the only one in the UK – to successfully bid for 10 million euros of Horizon 2020 funding to examine how cities can use heritage as a powerful engine for economic growth.

Liverpool City Council is to receive just over 400,000 euros from the prestigious ROCK programme (Renewable Heritage in Creative and Knowledge Economies) which will be used to promote the city’s unique assets and develop community engagement around its Mercantile World Heritage Site (WHS) – the results from which will help create a new European strategy.

ROCK funded activities will include initiatives to increase participation such as a citizen/youth board, volunteer programmes and social and wellbeing projects hosted at the Grade I listed St George’s Hall, which will celebrate the 10 anniversary of its £23 refurbishment in April.

This will be coupled with new digital interpretation panels and ‘way finder’ signage to connect the historic waterfront (including the newly established RIBA Centre at Mann Island) to key historic and cultural assets such as the Town Hall, St George’s Hall and the wider St George’s Quarter.

The funding, which is to be to be approved by Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet in February, coincides with a five year review of Liverpool’s WHS which found that £427m has been invested in heritage buildings with a further £245m on site and in the pipeline.

The survey found that 18 listed buildings situated within Liverpool’s WHS have been refurbished/brought back into use since 2012 with council financial assistance, such as the Aloft Hotel, the award-winning Central Library and Stanley Dock. Similar schemes to a further 19 listed buildings within WHS are currently on site.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Receiving this European funding is a huge coup for Liverpool and demonstrates how highly the city is internationally regarded in the way it protects its heritage.

“This funding will allow us to invest in radically improving our marketing and interpretation of our key heritage assets to residents and visitors, which will help further fuel our global appeal and booming tourism economy. 

“The collaboration with such prestigious partners will also provide an invaluable opportunity to exchange best practice with other historic cities such as Athens, Bologna and Lisbon and will put us at Europe’s top table for heritage development.”

It is hoped ROCK heritage pilot activity will form the basis for more substantial initiatives to build on ‘best practice’ across partners, increase heritage participation in all age groups, and improve inclusion and wellbeing.

Knowledge exchange and mentoring will take place across all cities on best practice deployment of sensor technology to monitor and conserve Heritage assets.

The 32 partner project, overseen by the city of Bologna, includes expert representation from UNESCO, United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), European Universities Association (EUA), and URBACT and is the largest of its kind in the H2020 programme.

It is regarded as the pinnacle of international heritage research, the results of which will form the basis for a future European wide strategy linked to RSI3 smart specialisation.

Towards an Outline Research Strategy for World Heritage UK

News, Publications

We have been lucky enough to get some pro-bono input from staff at Liverpool University to help put together an outline Research Strategy for World Heritage UK.  Any organisation that has advocacy as one of its aims needs to base its assertions on good evidence, moreover, high quality research can help us manage our Sites better.

Not only is systematic data from across the whole World Heritage sector in the UK lacking, but there has been no attempt to get a clear idea of what the Sites need in order to improve that way they work in areas like management planning, formal education or responding to planning applications.

The work that  Carol Ludwig and (WH:UK Trustee) Ian Wray has done has resulted in a succinct ‘starter for 10’ document using the data from several consultations of Sites and other industry organisations.  It sets out a rationale, an approach and then 10 priority themes with some potential questions identified within them.  The document is available for download here, and we welcome further feedback via

Best wishes

All at World Heritage UK


Building peace in the minds of men and women; #solidarite


Building peace in the minds of men and women

The UNESCO website makes it very clear that this commitment – building peace in the minds of men and women – is at the very foundation of the United Nations, established after the horrors of World War Two.

UNESCO was created as part of this new UN, and stated the following in its constitution “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. It goes on to say that “a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”.

So in essence, UNESCO was created because it was viewed that politics and economics are not enough to build a lasting peace, and that it must be based on “humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.”

While trying to digest Friday’s atrocity in Paris over the weekend, it was very clear to me and anyone looking at the news or on social media that people everywhere want to play their part, express their support, and show their solidarité for the people of Paris and France.

I have been involved in the management of a World Heritage Site for over 10 years now, and it was only over this weekend that for the first time I made this link between our role and the fundamental mission of UNESCO, and that word, ‘solidarity’ was at the heart of it; “humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.”

I can understand if you ask, what have World Heritage Sites got to do with Friday’s events? In themselves, absolutely nothing, but within this context of UNESCO’s mission, and the fact that the designations are UNESCO designations, surely there are ways in which World Heritage Sites can be more proactively used as forces for peace in the world – even if only as flag bearers for the wider aims of UNESCO, and the wider goals that it can achieve.

UNESCO say “Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.” We have seen recently the global outcry at the desecration of Palmyra. Looking deeper, perhaps part of the reasons for its destruction was because it was thought to be a symbol whose damage would send a strong message to the world. Conversely, its destruction has been a very tangible act which people can relate to – someone said to me that would be like ‘blowing up Stonehenge’, and you can imagine the response that would bring in the UK.

The World Heritage Convention also indicates that the unique nature of the concept is its “universal application” and that Sites “belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.” This simple statement gives us a tangible means to bind ourselves together – all 191 states who have signed up to the convention.

So, coming back to UNESCO – they say that their mission is the following, and I have highlighted certain areas that have a resonance with World Heritage:

  • In a globalized world with interconnected societies, intercultural dialogue is vital if we are to live together while acknowledging our diversity
  • In an uncertain world, the future of nations depends not only on their economic capital or natural resources, but on their collective ability to understand and anticipate changes in the environment – through education, scientific research and the sharing of knowledge.
  • In an unstable world – marked by fledgling democratic movements, the emergence of new economic powers and societies weakened by multiple stress factors – the educational, scientific and cultural fabric of societies – along with respect for fundamental rights – guarantees their resilience and stability.

Looking at this gives me a little hope that our national and global networks of outstanding places might be able to play a role, albeit probably a small one when dwarfed with the collective power of people and governments, in helping meet these laudable aims. It is probably by working with people and with governments that this may happen, and I sincerely hope that it can for whilst the World Heritage Convention is arguably doing a good job at conserving our cultural and natural heritage for future generations, is it helping to meet its wider role within UNESCO?

As for what to do, I don’t have the answers, but I urge all of you involved in World Heritage to bring this wider mission to the front of your minds, consider it in your plans, your hopes and your aspirations for your World Heritage Sites, and be bold.

As I finish writing this I have noticed on the twitter hashtag #solidarite that Durham Cathedral and St Georges Hall Liverpool, both constituent parts of World Heritage Sites, have lit up their buildings with the tricolor to show their solidarity with France. Perhaps my hope is not unfounded!



Sam Rose


Liverpool, March 16th 2015: The First WH:UK networking meeting

Events, Network meetings


The first WH:UK Network meeting took place in the fabulous  surroundings of Liverpool City Library  on March 16th 2015. Please do feel free to comment on the event or post any photos at the bottom of the page.

Liverpool library roof Liverpool library

The meeting agenda can be downloaded here: WHUK Networking meeting Liverpool 160315 Programme

Presentations from the day

Sam Rose, Shadow Chair, WH:UK.  Welcome and an introduction to World Heritage UK
World Heritage UK Liverpool Sam Rose pdf

Rob Burns, Urban Design and Heritage Conservation Manager for Liverpool. Liverpool mercantile maritime city, value added?
World Heritage UK Liverpool Rob Burns pdf

Helen Maclagen, Culture Director, the UK National Commission for UNESCO. Wider Value of UNESCO
World Heritage UK Liverpool Helen Maclagen pdf

Deborah Boden, WHS Coordinator, Cornish Mining Landscape WHS. Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape WHS UNESCO reactive monitoring Missions 2013 and 2015
World Heritage UK Liverpool Deborah Boden pdf


At each networking meeting we will record the key points from the day for peoples continuing professional development.  The notes from this event are: World Heritage UK Liverpool March 2015 Notes


We have had 14 responses to date from the Survey Monkey questionnaire.  For those still to respond, the link is here.   The summary of responses so far can be accessed here:WHUK Liverpool 2015 Evaluation preliminary results  Sorry that some of the results are a bit confusing – we will get better at it!


Our thanks to English Heritage (as was) for support for the day, and for the Liverpool Library Staff.


A full list of attendees will be published in the notes, but you might recognise a few from here

WH:UK meeting Liverpool March 2015