Civic leaders in Liverpool expressed outrage Wednesday after the English port city was stripped of its World Heritage status by the United Nations’ culture organization.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee voted in a secret ballot in China to remove the designation because of developments in the city center and on its historic River Mersey waterfront. Unesco had said that the developments, including the planned new Everton FC stadium, had resulted in a “serious deterioration” of the historic site. The decision was described as “incomprehensible” by the city’s mayor. “Our World Heritage site has never been in better condition having benefitted from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment across dozens of listed buildings and the public realm,” Joanne Anderson said. She said she would work with the government to examine whether the city could appeal against the decision, which comes “a decade after Unesco last visited the city to see it with their own eyes”. Liverpool was one of the world’s busiest ports in the 18th and 19th centuries, growing prosperous from trade in goods and — until the trade in humans outlawed by Britain in 1807 — slaves.
The docks declined and became derelict in the 20th century, but have been restored with museums, shops, bars, restaurants and new housing developments, making Liverpool a symbol of urban renewal. The city that gave birth to The Beatles was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2004, joining sites including India’s Taj Mahal, Egypt’s pyramids and the Tower of London.