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Liverpool 2011 RMM Mission Report FINAL (1)

Liverpool 2011 RMM Mission Report FINAL (1)

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Published by: Echo Newsroom on Jan 24, 2012
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1
Report of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Missionto the World Heritage property “Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City”, United Kingdom ofGreat Britain and Northern Ireland14-16 November 2011Acknowledgements
The mission would like to thank Mr Paul Blaker, Head of World Heritage at the Department forCulture, Media and Sports, for welcoming and informing the mission in Liverpool on behalf of thenational authorities of the United Kingdom, as well as Mr Frank Prendergast, Lord Mayor ofLiverpool, Mr Joe Anderson, Leader of the Council, Mr Nick Kavannagh, Director of Regeneration,Mr John Hinchliffe, World Heritage Officer and the other Senior Executives of the Liverpool CityCouncil for the excellent collaboration. Further thanks go to Dr Christopher Young, Head of WorldHeritage, Mr Henry Owen-John, North-West Regional Director and their colleagues from EnglishHeritage for their valuable inputs. Finally, the mission wishes to express its appreciation to theLiverpool World Heritage Steering Group and Liverpool Vision for their presentations and inparticular to Peel Holdings and its Development Director Mr Lindsey Ashworth andDevelopment/Investment Surveyor Mr
 
Ian Pollit for the constructive dialogue concerning theLiverpool Waters development.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 Overall State of ConservationThe inscribed property of “Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City” comprises six conservation areas,including 1) the Pier Head, 2) Albert Dock, 3) Stanley Dock, 4) Castle Street/Dale Street/Old HallStreet Commercial Centre, 5) William Brown Street Cultural Quarter, and 6) Lower Duke Street.Each of these areas is distinct and different in character from the others – making the whole of theWorld Heritage property diversified. Over the years since inscription many of the docks and thecity’s listed historic buildings, such as Kings Dock and St. Georges Hall, have been restored andare well-maintained according to internationally established guidelines for documentation, minimalintervention, authenticity and integrity – as was already reported in 2006. Since then importantfurther restorations include the Port of Liverpool Building, the interiors of the Cunard and LiverBuildings, the Royal Insurance Building, and several properties in the Ropewalks area, amongmany others. As such, the overall state of conservation of the property remains good and has infact been improved. Although public funds are drying up quickly, grants from the English LotteryFund are being used as incentives for private developers to undertake restorations andrehabilitations throughout various parts of the city.At the time of the 2006 reactive monitoring mission to Liverpool, the rehabilitation of the Pier Head(conservation area 1) comprising the three projects for the Museum of Liverpool, the new ferryterminal and Mann Island, was put into question by the preservation community (backed up bysome media) in terms of compatibility with Liverpool’s World Heritage status. Since all threeprojects are now complete (the Museum opened its doors in July 2011, while most of theapartments in the Mann Island redevelopment scheme have been sold or rented out already), themission had the opportunity to fully assess the impact of these three projects, which can be judgedas positive. Both the ferry terminal and the museum are much less intrusive in terms of massing,scale, orientation and architectural expression than was previously suggested, which is primarilydue to their low heights (reaching only half the height of the iconic Three Graces), materialization(in creamy tile cladding resembling the Three Graces) and out-of-the-way orientation, leaving thefront of the Three Graces intact and unobstructed. Moreover, the plaza that was previously a wind-swept place, not a pleasant pedestrian area, has gained a more intimate, lively atmosphere,adding a public space at the river front for the city.As regards the Mann Island project, the views to the Three Graces from the Kings Dock, whichwas the key issue during the 2006 discussions, have not been blocked completely, but have beenmaintained from several points in the city. It is true that a certain loss has been incurred, which in
 
2the view of the mission should be off-set against the significant gains: the introduction of a mixeduse scheme bringing visitors, residents and liveliness into this once empty, wind-swept corner ofthe city centre. The materialization in black granite, however, contrasts significantly with the directsurroundings (creamy tiles and red bricks). Nevertheless, the 2011 mission maintains its view thatit was an insufficient ground for Danger Listing back in 2006.The Liverpool One complex is the result of a massive redevelopment scheme since 2006 situatedon the other side of the Strand (which is the principal transportation corridor that constitutes in partthe boundary of the World Heritage site). Prior to redevelopment it was an open field in the middleof the city centre, a bleak remnant of World War II bombing damage. While controversial in 2006primarily because of its enormous scale in the heart of the city, it has now become a major successin commercial as well as town planning terms: it has managed to attract a great diversity of shopsand retailers, creating a lively atmosphere well suited to that part of town, whilst at the same timereconnecting various heritage-significant parts of the city with each other and with the WorldHeritage site, also through view corridors. (Apparently no systematic study of the impact ofLiverpool One on other retail areas in Liverpool has been executed yet, but based on anecdote andobservations by staff of English Heritage no evidence exists that Liverpool One has damaged otherretail areas of the city centre).Progress in implementation of the recommendations of the 2006 Reactive Monitoring missionThe recommendations of the 2006 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission have beenfollowed up and implemented, primarily through the development of the Supplementary PlanningDocument (SPD), adopted and published by the Liverpool City Council in October 2009, with afurther description of its overall character and spirit of place in an additional Evidential Report. TheLiverpool City Council is now working on the attributes that carry heritage significance. The SPDwas subjected to an awareness raising and public consultation process.In terms of content, however, the mission does not agree with the suggestion put forward in theSPD relating to “opportunities for two secondary clusters of high-rise buildings”, both of which arein the buffer zone, away from the primary cluster of the Central Business District. As such, thissuggestion is inconsistent with the recommendations of the 2006 mission.The Proposed Development of Liverpool WatersThe Liverpool Waters scheme forms part of a major “Super Port transformational project” involvingGB£ 1.8 billion in infrastructure investment in and between the cities of Manchester and Liverpoolby a private UK developer, Peel Holdings. The GB£ 5.5 billion mixed-use scheme (of offices,residential units and port infrastructure) itself is projected to pool financial resources of other(overseas) investors, but will be implemented by Peel Holdings. It comprises a massiveredevelopment of the historic docklands north of the city centre, thereby extending it significantlyand altering the skyline and profile of the World Heritage site.Furthermore, in terms of visual perception the redevelopment scheme will fragment and isolate thedifferent dock areas, instead of integrating them into one, continuous historic urban landscape. Thescheme, as presented by Peel to the mission team, does not reflect, nor evolve from the fragileand subtle yet significant heritage structures present in the dock areas; instead it treats the coreand buffer zones very differently (in terms of building height), while introducing the same mass andtypology throughout. This contradicts the meaning and function of the buffer zone, as discussed atthe 2008 Expert Meeting in Switzerland (published in World Heritage Series n°28), as well as theconcept and approach of the Historic Urban Landscape – under development since 2005 andfinally adopted as a UNESCO Recommendation, a non-binding ‘soft-law’, on 10 November 2011.This Recommendation promotes the Historic Urban Landscape approach as a new way to includevarious aspects of conservation into an integrated framework. It defines the historic urbanlandscape as the urban area understood to be the result of a historic layering of cultural andnatural values and attributes, extending beyond the notion of “historic centre” or “ensemble” toinclude the broader urban context and its geographical setting.
 
3In the case of Liverpool this wider context includes the topography of the site, which is expressedas a three-tiered urban structure including the waterfront, the massing and height of the ThreeGraces, and the shoulders of the Anglican Cathedral on the ridge overlooking the city. Further tothis, the historic docklands to the north complement those to the south, putting the Three Gracescentre-stage in this more or less symmetrical city profile. This has a historical reason also, as theThree Graces were indeed at the heart of shipping and harbour operations during the height of itsglory, surrounded by dockyards and port structures. Shifting this profile to the north by introducinga secondary cluster of high-rise, with towers three times the height of the Three Graces, woulddestroy this profile, relegating the Three Graces to playing second violin, and thereby losing animportant visual and historical reference to the city’s glorious past.The comprehensive Heritage Impact Assessment of over 300 pages, commissioned by EnglishHeritage, expresses this concern, which is supported by the mission. In collaboration with LiverpoolCity Council, Peel Holdings also produced a Heritage Impact Assessment, which perhaps notsurprisingly comes to almost diametrical conclusions – i.e. that the visual and physical impacts onthe heritage assets are negligible, alongside the very positive socio-economic impacts generatedby the scheme in terms of revenue and employment generation. However, Peels’ Heritage ImpactAssessment does indicate that several key views from the north back to the Three Graces will beblocked by the new developments, while also the hard-won views of the Three Graces from KingsDock, over the residential buildings of Mann Island, will disappear against a backdrop ofsupertowers (including the “Shanghai Tower”).Development Strategies, existing Planning Procedures and Management SystemAlthough the Liverpool Waters proposal is considered not to be properly designed, in its outlinescheme, with regard to the heritage-sensitive location in and around the core zone of the WorldHeritage property, in overall terms the development strategies, existing planning procedures andmanagement system for the property and its setting should be effective in putting heritage at theheart of the redevelopment process and thereby regenerating the city of Liverpool.Mission’s Conclusion and RecommendationThe mission concludes that if the proposed Liverpool Waters scheme as outlined during themission would be implemented, the World Heritage property would be irreversibly damaged, due toa serious deterioration of its architectural and town-planning coherence, a serious loss of historicalauthenticity, and an important loss of cultural significance. It strongly recommends that the threeprincipal stakeholders, being Liverpool City Council, Peel Holdings and English Heritage,reconvene around the table and work out an adjusted scheme that includes the observations putforward in this report.
1. BACKGROUND TO THE MISSION
At the invitation of the Government of the United Kingdom (by letter dated 17 August 2011) and asrequested by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session (Decision
35 COM 7B.118
), a jointUNESCO-ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out to assess the overall state ofconservation of the World Heritage site of Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom)and the factors affecting its Outstanding Universal Value, with particular regard to the proposeddevelopment of Liverpool Waters. The mission took place from 14 to 16 November 2011.
2. MAIN ASPECTS FOR REVIEW AND DISCUSSION AS IDENTIFIED IN THE TERMS OFREFERENCE
According to the Terms of Reference, the reactive monitoring mission assessedi. the overall state of conservation of this property and the factors affecting its OutstandingUniversal Value, with particular regard to the proposed development of Liverpool Waterswith its dense, high and mid-rise buildings;

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