EH acts to save historic buildings in Liverpool
20 March 2008

By Marguerite Lazell

Two buildings on Liverpool’s threatened world heritage site have been listed as part of the biggest review of a city’s historic building stock ever undertaken.

The two Georgian terraces are part of a survey of 60 buildings being carried out by English Heritage following growing concern at the pace of redevelopment in the Capital of Culture city.

Earlier this month, a public outcry erupted when developer Maghull partly demolished the facade of unlisted 19th century Josephine Butler House on Hope Street. This follows criticism by Unesco, which has threatened to add the city to its “heritage in danger” list.

EH has toughened its stance in recent months, putting a dedicated team in charge of the survey, which will be presented to ministers in stages until the end of July.

EH insisted it was simply responding to the volume of projects on the drawing board — estimated to be worth at least £3 billion in the city centre alone. But critics claimed the government organisation had been “shamed” into action because of a series of recent scandals in which developers damaged historic buildings.

Nick Bridgland, EH team leader for heritage protection in the north of England, said the survey was sparked by a report by the Historic Environment of Liverpool Project, a partnership between EH, Liverpool City Council and other stakeholders.

“Out of that rose the perception that there were lots of buildings in the world heritage site that might be listed, but weren’t designated,” he said.

“The pace [of development] is such that we have to move swiftly. We’re aiming to have the last assessments sent to the DCMS by the end of July. We haven’t felt under pressure. It’s the pace of change which has put Liverpool’s heritage under pressure.”

But Liverpool Preservation Trust founder Wayne Colquhoun dismissed the move as “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”.

He added: “EH has almost been shamed into following suit. I consider this is a direct result of the pressure we and other heritage groups have applied.”

Leading local architect Ian Killick, director of Shed KM, agreed that many of the best historic buildings were already long gone.

“[The survey] has come about as a result of the world heritage site status,” he said. “There’s been a lot of bad press, and Unesco wants to keep checking on it.”

But Save Britain’s Heritage secretary Adam Wilkinson welcomed the move and called for EH to take similar action elsewhere.

“There are many other cities in the UK which haven’t had their listings looked at in 30 years,” he said.