The birthplace of the Beatles is no longer one of the sites classified as World Heritage of Humanity. According to Committee delegates, the port in North West England has lost its authenticity. It is only the third site to suffer this relegation.
Unesco on Wednesday removed Liverpool from its list of World Heritage sites, due to overdevelopment affecting the authenticity of this emblematic English port of the industrial era.
Thirteen delegates from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, whose current session is chaired by China, voted for a downgrading of this port in the north-west of England, classified in 2004, and five against, i.e. more the two-thirds majority required to downgrade a site.
Liverpool thus becomes the third site to suffer this fate, after similar decisions previously concerning the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, in 2007, and the Elbe Valley in Dresden (Germany) in 2009.
In question: the redevelopment plans of the port, whose very high buildings and a new football stadium risk “irreversibly damaging” its heritage, said the Unesco committee. Liverpool had been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site after an ambitious rehabilitation of the seafront and docks following decades of decline.
Birthplace of the Beatles
Port of departure for millions of Irish and British migrants as well as African slaves, the city with a rich musical heritage is also the birthplace of the Beatles: a history that forged what Unesco considered to be the “Distinctiveness and uniqueness” de Liverpool.
However, the International Council of Monuments and Sites, which advises Unesco, had already “asked on several occasions” to the British government to provide more solid guarantees concerning the future of the city, which appeared since 2012 on the list. heritage in danger.
But the development projects continued, to the point of making it lose its authenticity. The new stadium for Everton Football Club – approved by the government without any public inquiry – constitutes “The most recent example of a totally opposite major project” to Unesco’s objectives, added the council.
Several countries including Australia, whose Great Barrier Reef is also threatened with declassification, spoke out against removing Liverpool from the list, believing it to be a measure “radical” in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. Brazil, Hungary and Nigeria have requested that the decision be postponed for a year, to give more time to the new city council elected in May.
The prestigious World Heritage label is a boon to tourism and encourages governments to protect their cultural or environmental treasures. But the addition is not permanent, and these sites can also be stripped of their status or be warned that they are in danger.
The British government said on Wednesday “Extremely disappointed” by the removal of Liverpool from the list of World Heritage sites, motivated by recent developments in this historic port in the North West of England.
“We are extremely disappointed with this decision and believe that Liverpool still deserves its World Heritage status given the important role the docks have played in history and the city more broadly”, said a government spokesperson.