‘Tell UNESCO where to go’, Liverpool business leader Frank McKenna urges the city council

Chief executive of lobby group Downtown in Business says Liverpool should voluntarily surrender World Hertiage Status before UNESCO takes it away in a row over new waterfront development. Tony McDonough reports

Downtown in Business chief executive Frank McKenna


Liverpool business leader Frank McKenna is urging Liverpool City Council to chase UNESCO out of town in the escalating row over the city’s World Heritage Status (WHS).

The chief executive of lobby group Downtown in Business says Liverpool should voluntarily surrender WHS.

UNESCO bestowed Liverpool’s waterfront with WHS in 2004 but the city was put on a danger list in 2012 over concerns about the impact of the tall towers planned for Peel’s £5.5bn Liverpool Waters project in the North Docks.

Escalating row

Stakes were raised this week after UNESCO threatening to withdraw WHS if the development plans weren’t modified to its satisfaction.

This view is backed by Henrietta Billings, director of the campaign group Save Britain’s Heritage, who says the loss of the status would be an “international embarrassment for the UK.

But political and business leaders in the city have grown increasingly impatient with UNESCO saying its interference risked scaring off potential investors to the city.

Lindsey Ashworth, development director of Peel said: “We cannot afford to fossilise our city.”

And now Mr McKenna has gone further, urging the city council to tell UNESCO to sling its hook.

‘Luvvies and elites’

He said: “World Heritage Status is a vanity badge that adds no value to the city’s visitor economy, nor to our economic growth.

“Worse, it has had a negative impact In recent years, with many developers choosing alternative cities to invest, put off by the additional red tape and bureaucracy that UNESCO bring to the planning process in Liverpool.

The Liverpool Waters scheme could feature a number of high-rise towers, which has upset UNESCO


“I have never met a foreign visitor who has quoted WHS as the reason for their visit to the city. I have never heard an investor give it as a reason for them being in Liverpool.

“It is a vanity badge celebrated by luvvies and the cultural elites – and used by heritage obsessives as a stick with which to beat our city.”

Negative impact

Mr McKenna added that some of those who defended UNESCO were unaware of the negative impact WHS has on Liverpool. He added: “Many who criticise the city’s progressive development plans have never even been to the city.

“The heritage lobby pretend that Liverpool is going to build tower blocks on top of and around the Three Graces. That is a nonsense.

“Planned developments in the North Dock are well away from the Heritage site itself and are not anywhere near the Graces.

“However, the so-called ‘buffer-zone’, which covers huge chunks of the city, prevents iconic, ambitious projects.

“I find it ironic that those who do the most complaining about more student accommodation, and the growth of hotels catering for the stag and hen market, are the same people defending UNESCO.

“We want to celebrate our past, but not live in it.”

Of the 1,052 World Heritage Sites across the globe, 53 are in danger, according to UNESCO.

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