Liverpool launches heritage vision to shape future of north docklands

Liverpool has launched the UK’s first heritage led development plan to help shape a multi-billion pound regeneration programme in its historic docklands.

The city’s Mayor, Joe Anderson, launched the North Shore Vision document to a virtual audience this morning, which included leading UNESCO representatives, stating Liverpool was rising to the challenge of saving its World Heritage Status.

Addressing a live webinar, which was attended by Dr Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, Chief of the Europe and North America Unit at the World Heritage Centre, Mayor Anderson said the North Shore Vision would make Liverpool “an international beacon for heritage led development”.

The North Shore Vision is the first development document in the UK to adopt guidelines set out by the United Nations on Sustainable Development and UNESCO’s own model for developing Historic Urban Landscapes (HUL).

The vision will be used to guide the future growth of 260 acres of largely derelict brownfield land in one of the poorest areas of the UK. This area encompasses Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters and the Ten Streets District, and lies almost exclusively with the city’s World Heritage Site and its Buffer Zone.

The vision is supported by a new interactive website – https://www.northshorevision.org/ – curated by urban design company Planit-IE, which explains the history of the area and proposed future schemes in hi-definition detail.

The vision has been put together by a consortium of planning professionals, designers and heritage experts including the city’s World Heritage Team and World Heritage Task Force and Steering Group – as well as representatives from Historic England, DCMS, RIBA and University of Liverpool.

The North Shore Vision is to be formally adopted by Liverpool City Council, which commissioned the document as part of a programme of work in response to UNESCO placing the city’s World Heritage Status on the at risk register in 2013.

One key stakeholder in the area, Everton Football Club, has already informally used the vision to help shape proposals for its new football stadium at Bramley Moore Dock, Liverpool Waters, which will require some of the dock to be infilled.

The North Shore webinar, which was due to be held in Spring before Covid-19 lockdown began, included keynote speakers such as Sir Neil Cossons, former Chair of Historic England.

As well as Dr Anatole-Gabriel, the audience also included representatives from UNESCO as well as their advisory body ICOMOS.

They heard Mayor Anderson reaffirm that Liverpool’s World Heritage Status, which was awarded to the city in 2004, is of great importance to the city and that UNESCO’s fears over tall buildings in Liverpool Waters have been addressed.

Mayor Anderson, who last week ruled out a zip-wire attraction through another part of the city’s World Heritage Site, stated that the scheme was “a world away from its original concept” and added that thanks to almost £1bn of investment in Liverpool’s World Heritage Site has never been in better shape.

He also applauded the developers Peel L&P for signing up to the North Shore Vision, which he said would “balance the needs of a growing city whilst protecting our World Heritage Status”.

Mayor Anderson added: “Liverpool has wrestled – often quite publicly – with the idea of balancing the economic need to develop, with the need to respect the heritage of these unique but dilapidated docklands.

“We’ve been listening to the concerns of UNESCO – and we’ve been talking to Peel L&P to see how those concerns can be addressed without compromising the ambition we all share to develop this area.

“The result is the North Shore Vision and it is going to play a fundamental role in the multi-billion pound renaissance of this area over the coming decades, creating thousands of much needed jobs. I firmly believe the way this has been developed will make Liverpool an international beacon of heritage-led regeneration.

“The new website for the vision will also bring the story of the North Shore vividly to life – both its past and future – with a whole series of new interactive imagery explaining the principles of the strategy and its goals. As a result anyone and everyone will be able to see what is being planned.

“I want to thank everyone involved in putting it all together. Their timing is perfect. For the first time in 50 years, investment is beginning to happen in our North Shore from the Ten Streets and Liverpool Waters right up to Bramley Moore Dock

“The first signs of this change are for all to see with business and residential developments in Princes Dock and Central Docks, a new Ferry Terminal and investment in new roads and infrastructure. Also, the renovation of Stanley Dock is a shining example of how the city’s historic buildings can be repurposed to reflect the needs of the new Liverpool and stimulate new growth and jobs.

“The template is clear and through the North Shore Vision we are finessing that approach – and developing it for others to learn from.”

Darran Lawless, development director at Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters, said: “We are delighted to see the vision for the North Shore finally revealed today. We have been working in the background with the partners for nearly a year now, sharing our ambitions and our concerns, working out how best we could engage our local, national and international audiences, and best present our collective ambitions.

“We have shared openly our digital assets and the story of our changing plans, as have others, to create a truly unique way of presenting our vision for Liverpool Waters, not in isolation but as an integral piece of the North Shore ambition.

“Working with the city council, Everton FC and other partners, we want to breathe new life into the docks with the creation of thousands of jobs, new homes and a destination for world-class sport, tourism and leisure facilities to help attract new business and investment opportunities

“As we emerge to face the post-pandemic challenges, we are convinced this collaborative, partnership working will become an international exemplar of heritage-led, inclusive regeneration and growth.”

Liverpool’s World Heritage Status: DID YOU KNOW?:

Liverpool has taken many steps to protect and improve its World Heritage Site since being placed on the at risk register in 2013, such as:
• More than £900m has been invested in historic assets within the site in the past decade
• Since 2012 Buildings at Risk have fallen below 2.75% of building stock – far below the UK average
• 37 listed buildings have been upgraded
• 18 developments with council financial assistance, such as the Aloft Hotel, the award-winning Central Library and Stanley Dock
• New lighting schemes installed at St Luke’s Church and the Bascule Bridge
• Since 2015 each development proposal that has the potential to affect the Outstanding Universal Value (of the WHS) is accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment
Since the 2017 World Heritage Committee Session Liverpool has also established an independent Task Force to re-establish a positive debate with Government and UNESCO with a view to the retention of WHS status.
• Liverpool City Council has also joined forces with RIBA to develop a 3D model of the city which planners will eventually be able to use to showcase their schemes
And finally:
• Liverpool filled in docks more than 100 years ago to create the Three Graces – The Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building, giving Europe its first skyscrapers.
Of the city’s original 17 docks – nine have since been infilled.

For more information please go to the city’s World Heritage website at https://www.liverpoolworldheritage.com/