Liver­pool must not lose its Her­itage sta­tus

Country Life Every Week - - Athena -

‘UNESCO states that the city will lose its sta­tus in 2018 if poli­cies don’t change

LIVER­POOL’S des­ig­na­tion in 2004 as a World Her­itage Site was a tri­umph not just for Scousers, but for the UK as a whole. From the 1770s un­til the jet re­placed the ocean liner, this was Eng­land’s sec­ond city and it has ar­chi­tec­ture to match. Even to­day, the com­mer­cial cen­tre of Liver­pool, with its hand­some banks and in­surance build­ings, is a reg­u­lar film-mak­ers’ stand-in for London and New York.

How­ever, it was not long ago that the city was so down the Hol­i­day Inn closed. That was when the mil­i­tant mayor Derek Hat­ton was threat­en­ing to sell the Old Masters off the Walker Gallery walls and Mar­garet Thatcher stepped in to make six of Liver- pool’s col­lec­tions into na­tional mu­se­ums —putting the city on a par with London and Ed­in­burgh. Michael He­sel­tine poured funds into re­gen­er­a­tion as had Labour’s Peter Shore be­fore him. More re­cently, the Her­itage Lottery Fund has been do­ing its bit, too.

The hand­some Ge­or­gian streets near the two great cathe­drals have been re­paired and re­vived, the mighty Al­bert Dock rein­vented, the Rope­walks trans­formed and Sefton Park and Prince’s Park re­vived. Nu­mer­ous prize ar­chi­tec­tural land­marks have been re­stored, in­clud­ing Nor­man Shaw’s Al­bion House, the Florence In­sti­tute, the Greek Ortho­dox Church, the 1930s Air Ter­mi­nal, the new Ti­tanic Ho­tel (in a dock­side ware­house) and John Wood’s Town Hall (COUN­TRY LIFE,

Au­gust 3, 2016). All this was crowned by the mas­sive bil­lion-pound in­vest­ment of the Grosvenor Es­tate in Liver­pool One. Even though it opened as re­ces­sion struck in 2008, it was fully let and con­tin­ues to thrive.

Mean­while, Eric Pick­les’ de­ci­sion to save the 400 houses of the Welsh Streets, now be­ing re­stored as rental prop­er­ties for fam­i­lies, has halted for the present the need­less and scan­dalous clear­ance of ter­races and the cruel evic­tions of fam­i­lies from their life­long homes. Some of the clear­ances— around An­field Sta­dium and along Edge Lane—were for a new speed­way to the air­port, which never hap­pened.

Now, just as Liver­pool turns the cor­ner and all this in­vest­ment bears fruit, the city is threat­ened with loss of its World Her­itage sta­tus. This is prin­ci­pally be­cause of the city’s em­brace of high-rises, no­tably the tow­ers of Liver­pool Waters in the north­ern docks and grim stu­dent-hous­ing tow­ers near Lime Street Sta­tion and the neo-clas­si­cal St Ge­orge’s Hall.

It’s the worse be­cause the team of en­light­ened plan­ners that won the World Her­itage sta­tus have been side­lined and driven out. UNESCO states that the city will lose its sta­tus in 2018 if poli­cies don’t change. This needs to be a wake-up call for the DCMS. In France, Bordeaux has set the world an ex­am­ple of how World Her­itage sta­tus can re­ju­ve­nate a great port city. This is a case in which Karen Bradley, the Cul­ture Sec­re­tary, has to show she’s feisty not feck­less.

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