Engage was invited today to make a presentation to the gathered heritage experts from UNESCO HQ in Paris and from ICOMOS and the other associated bodies reporting to the World Heritage Committee, at the 2021 World Heritage Watch Forum which brings together civil society actors concerned about protecting the status of the different WHS around the world.

Our presentation focused on the context of the six distinctive WHS areas in the city and then on the controversial aspect of Bramley Moore Dock and the Tall Buildings policy for parts of the port area and wider city centre. When UNESCO and ICOMOS officials were invited to ask question everyone was very grateful for the work that Engage and other civil society representatives had done to highlight the dangers faced by the WHS in Liverpool. We were commended for our previous seminar series in 2017 and 2018 as well as the presentations we had submitted to World Heritage Watch Reports 2017-2020 .

It was interesting to hear the comments from UNESCO and ICOMOS officials about a number of issues but especially about my statement regarding the North Shore Vision document which though seen as a positive document for the city it was lacking in substance about specific policy and strategy regarding protecting the OUV of the WHS property in particular. The use of the 2011 UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape document was noted and welcomed but the city hadn’t made use of it to promote integral development since the document was released.

It was hard to hear that the Bramley Moore Dock stadium proposal was a very recent problem but it only built upon the previous longstanding and still unresolved serious questions about damage to the Outstanding Universal Value of the WHS by the lack of a tall buildings policy and the permissions granted for these constructions in very sensitive areas of the UNESCO property despite warnings and recommendations presented to the State Party and Liverpool City Council.

On a positive note at the end of Liverpool’s presentation there was a strong recommendation from the Chair to the World Heritage Committee’s 44th Session not to delete Liverpool this summer but to wait for the result of the Bramley Moore Dock planning application and it’s possible ‘calling in’ by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick and for the WHC to bring pressure to bear on the UK Government as the State Party by declaring that there would be an automatic deletion the following year should the proposals be allowed to go ahead.

It was made clear to the many participants that UNESCO was not ever against development and the need in urban contexts to respond to the socio-economic realities of citizens. They firmly believe that heritage and development are possible and not mutually exclusive but it requires planning authorities to work closely with heritage officials from an early stage in discussions as plans are brought forward within the WHS and Buffer Zone. This was made very clear to us when in 2018 Engage brought experts from 3 WHS port cities to show how they managed it: Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Hamburg.

The WHW presentation can be viewed HERE

A fascinating article has been written by a Durham University academic Joe Mulhern, about the person whom Bramley Moore Dock was named after who was not only involved in slave trade trafficking but also owned slaves himself. The article was published by the LSE on 24th February 2021: Everton’s new Bramley-Moore stadium is a stark reminder of Liverpool’s historic entanglement with slavery in Brazil.