is liverpool losing its heritage?

Liverpool, more specifically Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City, was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2004. Liverpool was considered by UNESCO as “The supreme example of a commercial port at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence” [1] with the reasons for its consideration as a World Heritage city including:

  • Liverpool played a leading role in the development of dock construction, port management and international trading systems in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • The buildings and structures of the port and the city are an exceptional testimony to mercantile culture.
  • Liverpool played a major role in influencing globally significant demographic changes in the 18th  and 19th centuries, through a) its involvement in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and b) its involvement as the leading port of mass European emigration to the New World.

However, this World Heritage status has conflicted with many of the city’s plans for development. From the proposal of the Fourth Grace [5],  where the architects publicly berated the World Heritage officials, to more recent plans for waterfront skyscrapers [2,3,4], Liverpool’s heritage seems like it is getting in the way of its contemporary ambitions. Although none of these proposals will be able to conceal the city’s role in the slave trade it is felt that they may overshadow its architecture and skyline. As a result UNESCO have been called in to consider its World Heritage status and English Heritage have stated that the recent development will have “a significant damaging negative impact on the Liverpool world heritage site and its outstanding universal value” [2,3].

[1] http://www.liverpoolworldheritage.com/

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/architecture/is-liverpools-world-heritage-status-in-ruins-6260430.html

[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner/2012/jun/20/liverpool-unesco-heritage-risk

[4] http://www.dezeen.com/2012/06/27/liverpool-risks-losing-unesco-world-heritage-status/

[5] http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/fourth-grace-architect-blasts-world-heritage-officials/579210.article

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