By the Save Waterloo Dock Team

22 June, 2021

Letter plea to UNESCO - Defer the Decision. Letter to the Secretary of State for DCMS extend Liverpool’s WHS designation for another year to allow the negotiation of a compromise solution.

SAVE WATERLOO DOCK wrote to UNESCO World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS on June 1, 21 with a constructive pragmatic and fair proposal of sensible compromise.

We asked:

"Defer the decision "

  1. A moratorium on new planning approvals long enough for a review and a reset of the rules between Liverpool, City Region, UK Government and UNESCO
  2. No more dock infill beyond Bramley Moore Dock



We also wrote to the secretary of state, Oliver Dowdon at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in a last ditch effort to influence the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s decision regarding the Liverpool World Heritage Status.

Oliver Dowden at DCMS is the Government department with responsibility for the relationship between the British Government and UNESCO World Heritage. We believe it is essential that HM Government makes every effort to convince UNESCO World Heritage Committee to extend the Liverpool’s WHS designation for another year to allow the negotiation of a compromise solution.

Here is our letter sent via email on 16 June 2021.

The Rt Hon. Oliver J Dowden, 

MP Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

100 Parliament Street 



Dear Secretary of State: 

Outline planning approval granted by Liverpool City Council (LCC) in 2012 for the brutal redevelopment of the historic northern docks, which lie within the UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) and Buffer Zone, caused the World Heritage Committee (WHC) to place Liverpool on its “List in Danger”. It is one of only three sites in Europe so designated. Despite repeated concerns, requests and warnings none of the city, the landowner or the other developers paid heed. Liverpool now faces the ignominy and international opprobrium of becoming only the third WHS in half a century to see its designation cancelled. 

Each State Party is responsible for the protection and conservation of World Heritage Sites situated on its territory; that responsibility for the UK is vested in DCMS. 

Save Waterloo Dock ( ) is a neighbourhood association of mostly local residents campaigning to protect one of Liverpool’s oldest (1834) and most historic docks. For the past two-and-a-half years we have been fighting inappropriate development involving dock infill and construction of apartment blocks in our West Waterloo Dock. Increasingly our concern has grown to include our World Heritage Site, the international reputation of our City and indeed the global prestige of Great Britain. Cancellation of Liverpool’s WHS designation would in our opinion be not just a cultural catastrophe, but would in its wake create huge commercial, economic and reputational damage far beyond the city. Recently we voiced our concerns in an Open Letter to the Director of UNESCO World Heritage. We sent copies to the President of ICOMOS and other interested and influential parties, including Baroness Barran and you. Liverpool and Britain still face uncertain recovery from the horrific consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cancellation of the Liverpool WHS would be an unwelcome addition to those woes. We recommended to UNESCO WHC a conditional extension with a short moratorium on further development within the WHS and Buffer Zone and an absolute prohibition on further dock infill as we believe a negotiated settlement is always preferable to unilateral action. 

For UNESCO WHC members to take heed and be sympathetic to a change of heart, it is necessary for the new mayor to state the LCC position loudly and clearly. This includes an honest commitment to retain the WHS designation, recognition that past policies were misguided, a willingness to sustain an immediate short moratorium on new planning approvals in the WHS and Buffer Zone to allow a reset, and a cessation of dock infill. This will also need strong and urgent reinforcement at international level. We ask you as the Secretary of State to take whatever steps are necessary at the highest level of Government to represent to UNESCO WHC the importance of the Liverpool WHS designation and its continuation. We ask also that the full co-operation of the Liverpool Mayor and LCC is sought in delivering this message either directly or indirectly via the four newly appointed Commissioners. 

Yours sincerely, 

Neighbourhood Association 

Cc: Baroness Barran – DCMS 

Keith Nichol – DCMS 

Europa Nostra UK 

Historic England NW 

SAVE Britain’s Heritage 

The Georgian Group 

The Victorian Society 

Engage Liverpool 

Merseyside Civic Society 

Ms. Kim Johnson, MP – Liverpool Riverside