As Unesco inspectors prepare to visit Liverpool on Monday Downtown in Liverpool Business chairman Frank mc Kenna has called on Liverpool to dump its pierfront UNESCO World Heritage Site status if it threatens the Peel Holdings Liverpool Waters scheme.
“It would be a tragedy for Liverpool’s economic future if the area recently designated as an enterprise zone were to be stymied because of a status that brings little to Liverpool’s reputation or economy.”
He added that the World Heritage status is becoming a barrier to regeneration and the city should have “no hesitation in handing back the status” if it continues.
World Heritage Status is a nice claim to fame – but economically and culturally it’s as useful as a chocolate tea pot.
Peel Holdings developers of the Liverpool Waters Scheme, which makes the Carbuncle Cup winning Salford Media City scheme look positively inspired, became a member of Mr mc Kenna Group last month.
Meanwhile former Party Colleague and friend of Frank Mc Kenna, Liverpool City Council leader Joe Anderson has hit out at English Heritage for its criticism of the Liverpool Waters Scheme.
He said the council was no longer prepared to concede ground to the government-funded commission.
He told the Daily Post: “We have got to be forward thinking. English Heritage is too restrictive over development in Liverpool without a shadow of a doubt and that frustrates me.
“We have to recognise we can restrict investment by being too prescriptive. They have hampered investment already in terms of tall buildings.
Peel’s Liverpool Waters planning application for the city’s north docks was delayed and significantly altered following objections from English Heritage and discussions with council planners.
The scheme was finally submitted this month with fewer high buildings and the landmark Shanghai Tower moved back from the waterfront and reduced in height. Officers are supporting the scheme, which has yet to go to the planning committee.
Cllr Anderson added: “We cannot concede any more ground to English Heritage. We respect its views, but we are not going to let it in any way restrict investment in our future.”
“Every time there is talk of a new building, we have some form of interference by some group of heritage lobbyists.
“The checks and balances have gone too far in their favour and restrict the council trying to create jobs and opportunities.”
A spokeswoman for English Heritage called Cllr Anderson’s criticism “unjustified” and said it was working with the council and Peel Holdings on the Liverpool Waters proposals to realise “the much-needed regeneration of the central docks in a way which does not harm and put at risk the city’s World Heritage Site status”.
The inspectors being sent are Ron van Oers and Patricia Alberth from Unesco – the body which runs World Heritage Sites(WHS) – and Mr Giancarlo Barbato, an Italian Conservation Architect from ICOMOS, the International Committee on Monuments and Statues.
The terms of reference state that the mission will assess the overall state of conservation and factors affecting the outstanding universal value of Liverpool’s WHS.
It will have “particular regard” to the proposed development of Liverpool Waters ,the inspectors will also examine progress that has been made since the 2006 Unesco mission and the city’s overall development strategies, “existing planning procedures and management systems and their effectiveness for the property and its setting”.
The findings of the mission will be reported to the World Heritage Centre by December 23 at the latest in the report not exceeding 10 pages.
Liverpool has delayed making a decision on Peel’s planning application until after the visit.
An independent report by English Heritage has concluded that the Peel Group’s £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme, Britain’s biggest planning application, would have “a significant damaging negative impact on the Liverpool world heritage site and its outstanding universal value”.
Wayne Colquhoun, 50, who runs the Liverpool Preservation Trust from his art shop in the India Buildings, the former headquarters of the Blue Funnel Line, warned Unesco in Paris.
He said yesterday: “I have no regrets about causing this trouble. I was compelled to complain. This city is not safe in the hands of its present leaders. English Heritage is supporting me but I fear the people seem to want to turn our wonderful city into Shanghai-on-Mersey at a time when we should be looking to Amsterdam to build an architectural future on the human scale….
The city and Peel have recently been hammered by architectural critics. In 2009, the Merseytravel Pier Head ferry terminal won the Carbuncle Cup awarded by the magazine Building Design for “the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months”.
Liverpool’s retiring planning chairwoman, Lady Doreen Jones, said she had felt “blackmailed” into approving a design that looked like “an architectural student’s failed first attempt”…