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Liverpool, World Heritage Site

11 October 2013 by David Fleming

Merseyside Maritime Museum on sunny day with boats in dock

There is much activity surrounding Liverpool’s World Heritage Site status at the moment. For those of you who have missed it, much of Liverpool city centre has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, in recognition of the city’s remarkable wealth of buildings and structures that relate to the period when Liverpool was the premier port in the British Empire. This means that Liverpool’s heritage is ranked alongside the cities of Bruges, Prague and Salzburg and other celebrated heritage sites around the world such as Angkor Wat temple complex and the Taj Mahal – there are 981 in all, 28 of them in the UK.

The trouble is, because of a perceived threat to the city’s heritage from proposed developments in the northern docks area, Liverpool has been placed on UNESCO’s “List of World Heritage in danger”; there are only 44 sites on the danger list, including sites in Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and so on. The only other European site on the danger list is in recently-war-torn Kosovo.  This is rather embarrassing for Liverpool, and the sooner we get off this list, the better!

So it is reassuring that there is now intelligent discussion about the value of Liverpool’s World Heritage status. A seminar took place in Liverpool Town Hall on 23 September, and it was clear that there is widespread acknowledgement that WHS status is important to the city, and it must be protected. It is not impossible to combine the protection of Liverpool’s heritage with valuable (and job-creating) development.

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