San Francisco Chronicle
Liverpool is stripped of its World Heritage status
LONDON — Liverpool suffered the rare indignity Wednesday of being removed from the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites after being granted the title 17 years ago, because of concerns about developments in the city, most significantly on its famous waterfront.
The decision was made in Fuzhou, China, after a secret ballot by the UNESCO committee, which voted in favor of a recommendation made in June to strip Liverpool of its heritage status — a move that will be a blow to the prestige of a city that has fought to revitalize itself in recent years.
Richard Kemp, leader of the largest oppositionparty group on the Liverpool City Council, described the loss of status on Twitter as a “day of shame for Liverpool.”
A report published in June by the committee expressed “deep regret” and said that developments in the city and on its waterfront had “resulted in serious deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes,” as well as a “significant loss to its authenticity and integrity.”
Liverpool gained its World Heritage status in 2004, in recognition of its mercantile and maritime history reflected in grand architecture. As one of the world’s major trading centers in the 18th and 19th centuries, Liverpool built much of its prosperity from the slave trade.
The heritage list is
designed to recognize and preserve monuments, buildings and other sites, with member states obligated, to the greatest extent possible, to preserve them.
Only two other sites have lost their heritage status: the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, in 2007, after the number of oryx dropped precipitously and the government cut the size of the sanctuary by 90%; and the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany, two years later, because of the construction of a bridge that cut through it.
In Liverpool’s case, concern was focused in part on a $7 billion regeneration plan for its historic waterfront. The project includes luxury apartments and towering buildings, raising fears that they would endanger its skyline and architecture, leading to the city being placed on the list for World Heritage in Danger in 2012.
In a statement, the mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said that she was “hugely dis
appointed and concerned” by Wednesday’s decision.
“Our World Heritage site has never been in better condition having benefited from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment across dozens of listed buildings and the public realm,” she said. “We will be working with government to examine whether we can appeal but, whatever happens, Liverpool will always be a World Heritage city.”
Liverpool grew to vast prosperity as a commercial hub, including as the dominant British port in the transAtlantic slave trade. The city controlled 40% of the slave trade in the late 18th century.
“Liverpool is often called the ‘slaving capital of the world’ because it was the largest slavetrading port city in Europe in the 18th century until the British slave trade’s legal abolition in 1807,” said Sarah Moody, a historian at the University of Bristol.