Unesco World Heritage sites UK: full list of designated places - and why Liverpool could lose its status

The Liverpool site first found itself in danger of being removed from the list after a £5 billion Liverpool Waters project to restore the northern docks was approved

The Maritime Mercantile City in Liverpool, England, is in danger of losing its place in the list of Unesco World Heritage sites (Photo: Shutterstock)
The Maritime Mercantile City in Liverpool, England, is in danger of losing its place in the list of Unesco World Heritage sites (Photo: Shutterstock)

On Friday 16 July, the World Heritage Committee’s 44th session opened in Fuzhou, China, and will run until Saturday 31 July.

During the session, the Committee will cover a range of topics - most notably covering the 53 World Heritage sites that are in danger of losing their Unesco status.

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Alongside the Historic Centre of Vienna in Austria, the Abu Mena in Egypt and the Lake Turkana National Parks in Kenya is the Maritime Mercantile City in Liverpool, England.

This is everything you need to know.

Why could Liverpool lose its status?

A report from Unesco has said that the Government has “not fulfilled its obligations defined in the Convention with respect to protecting and conserving the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) as inscribed, of the World Heritage property of Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City”.

The report notes “with deep regret that as a result of approved and implemented development projects, the property has deteriorated to the extent that it has lost characteristics, which determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List”.

It is stated that the “OUV of the property continues to deteriorate through a process that appears to be irreversible”.

Therefore Unseco has decided to “delete Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City from the World Heritage List”.

Liverpool first found itself on the Unesco danger list in 2013, when the £5 billion Liverpool Waters project to restore the northern docks was approved.

Speaking to the i last month, Director of Unesco World Heritage, Dr Mechtild Rössler, said it would be a “very, very painful” moment if the decision to remove Liverpool from the list went ahead.

She said: “We would not go for delisting if the damage is not done. You can only propose delisting if you have an analysis that states that the outstanding universal value of the site is lost.

“Of course, the committee may decide otherwise, but from our analysis and the advisory bodies we have come to this conclusion.”

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Has Liverpool responded to the news?

Joanne Anderson, Liverpool city mayor, has said that she hopes the council’s report will make Unesco reconsider removing the city from the list.

She said: “We think deletion would be hugely unfair given all this body of work has not yet been assessed by the committee members and we need them to see Bramley Moore Dock with their own eyes.

“Deletion would not just be a loss to Liverpool, the UK, and to a greater degree Unesco, it would be an even bigger missed opportunity in demonstrating to the world that heritage and regeneration are not mutually exclusive.”

If the decision to remove the Liverpool site from the list goes ahead, it will join Dresden and Oman as the only sites to have ever lost their World Heritage status.

List of Unesco World Heritage sites in the UK

Unesco World Heritage Sites are split into three categories - cultural, natural and mixed.

These are all the cultural sites in the UK:

- Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, in Blaenavon, Wales

- Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, England

- Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church, in Kent, England

- Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd, in Isle of Anglesey and Gwynedd, Wales

- City of Bath, in Somerset, England

- Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, in Cornwall and Devon, England

- Derwent Valley Mills, in Derbyshire, England

- Durham Castle and Cathedral, in Durham, England

- Frontiers of the Roman Empire, in Northern England and Southern Scotland

- Gorham's Cave Complex, in Gibraltar

- Heart of Neolithic Orkney, in Orkney, Scotland

- Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, in St George, Bermuda

- Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England

- Jodrell Bank Observatory, in Cheshire, England

- Maritime Greenwich, in Greater London, England

- New Lanark, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland

- Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, in Edinburgh, Scotland

- Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church, in Greater London, England

- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, in Wrexham, Wales, and Shropshire, England

- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in Greater London, England

- Saltaire, in West Yorkshire, England

- Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, in Wiltshire, England

- Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey, in North Yorkshire, England

- The English Lake District, in Cumbria, England

- The Forth Bridge, in Edinburgh, Inchgarvie and Fife, Scotland

- Tower of London, in Greater London, England

These are the natural sites:

- Dorset and East Devon Coast, in Dorset and Devon, England

- Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

- Gough and Inaccessible Islands, in Tristan da Cunha, Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Dunha, South Atlantic Ocean

- Henderson Island, in Pitcairn Islands, Pacific Ocean

And the mixed site is St Kilda, in Scotland.