CEO of Downtown in Business Frank McKenna is furious heritage concerns are holding up Everton’s new £500m stadium and says World Heritage Status is more trouble than it’s worth. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool business leader Frank McKenna has renewed his call for the city to hand back its World Heritage Status following news it was holding up Everton’s new £500m stadium.
On Wednesday, Everton FC told fans there would be a further 28-day public consultation on the project at Bramley Moore Dock after objections from the heritage lobby forced changes to the design.
Although the stadium will be built in Liverpool Waters, which is outside of the WHS zone, it would be in a so-called buffer zone. Among the changes made to the design are a lowering of the overall height of the structure.
Last year the chief executive of business lobby and membership group Downtown in Business, Frank McKenna, claimed the WHS status was a “vanity badge” and that it should be handed back to UNESCO which he called a “faceless, unaccountable body”.
UNESCO has threatened to withdraw WHS several times over the past few years over concerns that new developments, in particular Peel’s Liverpool Waters, would have a detrimental impact on Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront.
Now Mr McKenna is repeating his calls for the WHS badge to be handed back. He said:” “Even a pandemic and the huge economic impact it will have on Liverpool does not register with these people who want to put Liverpool in aspic. They are still content to delay or even stop a major, job creating, regeneration scheme.
“I can’t be the only one who is fed up with the city having to constantly go cap in hand to this faceless, unaccountable body, amending plans, stymying regeneration and pausing progress in order to retain a title that is worth little or nothing in economic, tourism or cultural terms.
“Can the ordinary Liverpudlian understand how an abandoned, derelict part of the city can be considered a ‘heritage site’ that needs to be protected?
“And, at this moment in time particularly, do we want to be sending a signal to international investors that, as well as all the usual planning rules and regulations they have to face to get development plans approved, here in Liverpool there are additional hoops that they have to jump through?
“Whereas Everton FC have no option but to build and invest in the city, global investors can take their money anywhere. Why would they choose Liverpool if they know they will have to add into their timings and costs the almost inevitable obstructions from the heritage lobby for any potential development?”
Mr McKenna also said that he fully accepted the importance of ensuring new buildings should meet a quality threshold, but added: “The power and influence that the heritage lobby has in the city is unhealthy.
“The madness of heritage being used to object to Everton’s iconic scheme can only be fully appreciated if you recognise that the site for the development has been derelict wasteland for decades
“ It is time to tell UNESCO to take back their vanity badge and give Liverpool have the best possible chance of bouncing back from a crisis that has already seen a huge increase in jobless figures in the city region.”