What is a World Heritage Site (WHS)?

A World Heritage Site is a property that has been inscribed onto the World Heritage list by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

For further information on UNESCO visit www.unesco.org
Currently, around 880 sites have been inscribed onto the World Heritage list, which includes natural properties, cultural properties and mixed properties.

A cultural WHS is a monument, group of buildings or site which is of Outstanding Universal Value to the international community from the point of view of history, art, aesthetics, science, ethnicity or anthropology. International examples of WHSs include the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza. Sites in the UK include Stonehenge, Ironbridge Gorge, the City of Bath and the New and Old Towns of Edinburgh.

For further information on other UK WHSs visit www.lawhf.gov.uk, www.icomos.org/uk or http://www.culture.gov.uk/historic_e...orld_heritage/

When was Liverpool inscribed as a World Heritage Site?

Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City was inscribed as a cultural World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee at its meeting in Suzhou, near Shanghai on 2nd July 2004.

Why has Liverpool been inscribed as a World Heritage Site?

Liverpool was inscribed under the theme
“Liverpool - the supreme example of a commercial port at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence.”
The full case for Liverpool’s inscription is set out in the Nomination Document, Liverpool-Maritime Mercantile City (ISBN: 1-84631-006-7) which is available from bookshops or from Liverpool University Press for £17.50 or can be read on www.liverpoolworldheritage.com . The Statement of Significance within the Nomination Document defines Liverpool’s significance in World Heritage terms in four categories:

1. Liverpool’s role in World History

• The Development of World Trade

• The Industrial Revolution

• The Growth of the British Empire

• The Mass Movement of People

2. Liverpool’s tradition of innovative development


• Pioneering Dock Technology

• Port Management

• Building Construction Methods

• Transport Systems – Canals, Railways and the road tunnel

3. Liverpool’s outstanding urban landscape

• The Pier Head Waterfront

• The Architecture of the Commercial Centre

• The Civic and Cultural Buildings

• Warehouses

• The Domestic Buildings

4. Liverpool’s Collections


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• Historical Collections

• Cultural Collections

What is the Boundary of the World Heritage Site?

Liverpool’s World Heritage Site has an irregular boundary. It was drawn following detailed study, debate and consultation to include all those parts of the city that a) relate directly to its role as an historic port and b) comply with UNESCO’s three principle tests of having:

1. Outstanding Universal Value

2. Authenticity, and

3. Adequate arrangements for the proper conservation and management of the site.

During his evaluation mission to assess the Site in 2003, the independent assessor commented that he believed that Liverpool has
“…the largest and most complete system of historic docks anywhere in the world.”
However, the Site includes much more than just the Pier Head and even more than the historic waterfront from Wapping Dock to Stanley Dock.

Liverpool’s port-based WHS covers not only the waterfront with its 15 pre-1850 docks and 9 monumental dockside warehouses, but also those inland parts of the city that were associated with the work of the port:

• The Castle Street/Dale Street historic commercial district, of shipping offices, marine insurance offices, produce exchanges and banks;

• The Lower Duke Street merchants’ quarter, of historic warehouses and merchants’ houses, which is part of a wider area now known as Rope Walks and;

• The William Brown Street cultural quarter, centred on St. George’s Hall, illustrating the ambition of Liverpool in the mid-19th century to display civic pride and an interest in cultural values, as well as
commercial gain, funded by private and public profits from the maritime trade.

Maps of the World Heritage Site are available from the 08 Place,Whitechapel, Liverpool.

How will Liverpool benefit from becoming a World Heritage Site?

World Heritage status will bring major benefits to the city and even since July 2004, these are beginning to be felt:

1. Pride. The international seal of approval will build confidence in the future of Liverpool and should be a source of great pride.Together with the success of being named European Capital of Culture
2008,World Heritage Site status is generating new pride in Liverpool as a vibrant cultural and historic city.

2. Image. Liverpool’s new image and status is crucial to the on-going regeneration of the city. Liverpool is now better placed to attract informed cultural tourists who are keen to see the tangible evidence of what justifies the honour of World Heritage status. High quality historic environments make interesting places to live and work in and will attract more small business to invest in the city.

3. Funding. The enhanced heritage status is a powerful argument in any application for external funding for heritage and regeneration projects. A public pot of £4.5 million has already been secured for a
Townscape Heritage Initiative for Buildings at Risk in the World Heritage Site and its Buffer Zone.

4. Management. But perhaps most importantly, the Liverpool World Heritage Site Management Plan is a valuable planning tool in the proper conservation and management of the Site.

Is the World Heritage Site anything to do with the Capital of Culture?

The Liverpool World Heritage Site and the European Capital of Culture are two separate awards.

However, Liverpool’s nomination as a World Heritage Site was a demonstration of the international significance of the city’s architectural and cultural heritage and was therefore a factor in Liverpool’s success in winning the European Capital of Culture 2008 award. Furthermore, many objectives are shared between the World Heritage Site Management Plan and the Liverpool Culture Company and so there is a close working relationship between World Heritage and the Culture Company.

What is the World Heritage Site Management Plan?


The Management Plan is an aspirational and practical document that acts as a framework for the ongoing conservation and management of the Site. Its contents were agreed by the Liverpool World Heritage Steering Group, Liverpool City Council and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in December 2003 following extensive public consultation. It sets out a “Vision for the Future”, objectives and actions. One of the primary aims of the Management Plan is to seek the conservation of Liverpool’s cultural heritage to accepted standards of good practice. However, it must be stressed that the Management Plan does not seek to prevent change but it does seek

• to achieve a responsible management of that change

• to raise standards of urban design in its widest sense

• to increase appreciation and improve understanding of the special qualities of the Site.

The Management Plan can be read in full on www.liverpoolworldheritage.com .

Copies can be made available for practical purposes from the World Heritage Officer.

Does World Heritage Site status mean that no new development can take place within it or in its Buffer Zone?

Certainly not. World Heritage Site status does not bring any new statutory controls over development.The existing planning, conservation area and listed building controls still apply.

The World Heritage Committee fully recognises that Liverpool is a living city which must continue to evolve for the benefit of its communities, provided that its Outstanding Universal Value is protected.The Management Plan positively promotes both heritage-led regeneration and sustainable development, provided that it is of suitably high quality, in the right place and respects the context of the site.

What is the Buffer Zone?

It is an area around the Site which has been identified to protect the visual setting of the Site. Development proposals within the Buffer Zone will be considered for their impact upon the
Site. Do new buildings have to be copies of the historic buildings?
No. Guidelines issued by UNESCO advise that infill buildings in World Heritage Sites should
“…express the spirit of the day (but) take into consideration the design of their historic context.”
The World Heritage Site Management Plan requires that new development should be of
“…high design and construction quality.”
Are any grants available from UNESCO for repairs to historic buildings?

There is a small World Heritage Fund, but it is normally allocated to sites in danger in developing countries. Liverpool City Council and its public partners such as English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the North West Development Agency will aim to set up grant schemes and projects, subject to the availability of resources.

Grants are currently available through the Townscape Heritage Initiative for identified buildings in parts of the Commercial Centre around Dale Street and in parts of the Rope Walks area. For further details, ring the Planning Service on 0151 233 3021

For further information on Liverpool’s World Heritage Site, visit www.liverpoolworldheritage.com

Acknowledgments: Heritage Team, Liverpool Culture Company.