New Everton stadium could be 'game changer' for Liverpool World Heritage status, Lord Mayor says
Former regeneration chief discusses what stadium could mean to Unesco
A new Everton stadium at Bramley Moore Dock could be a “game changer” for Liverpool’s World Heritage status, the city’s Lord Mayor says.
Lord Mayor Malcolm Kennedy was in Poland this week as Unesco’s committee voted to keep Liverpool on the World Heritage in danger list.
The city still faces being stripped of its World Heritage status next year as watchdogs at Unesco are concerned about the impact of proposed skyscrapers at Liverpool Waters.
Cllr Kennedy believes Unesco would also object to any plan to fill in Bramley Moore dock, which is in one of the city’s six World Heritage zones, to build a stadium.
And he said Unesco could see any decision to fill in the dock as a “slap in the face” that could lead to the city losing its coveted status.
But one heritage campaigner said he believed Everton could come up with a design that would satisfy Unesco.
Sites are put on the World Heritage list because Unesco believes they have an “outstanding universal value” (OUV).
Writing on Facebook, Cllr Kennedy said: “UNESCO’s position would be that filling in BM dock would harm the OUV of the ‘property’ as they call it.
“The other side of the debate is of course that developing the stadium in BM will have undoubted and major regeneration benefit but undoubtedly at the cost of WHS status.”
Cllr Kennedy told the ECHO that the next step for the council was to work with the Government to create a “desired state of conservation” report. That would be a Unesco-approved blueprint for what developments will and will not be allowed within the WHS.
And he said: “It might be that any acceptable such document would rule out a stadium at Bramley Moore.
“If Liverpool then went ahead and gave planning permission to the stadium at the dock that then contravened the document, that would be a slap in the face for Unesco, and one they probably wouldn’t let stand.”
Cllr Kennedy, the city’s former Cabinet member for regeneration, suggested one solution might be for the stadium to be moved to the Central Docks site at Liverpool Waters where the docks are already filled in.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the city would keep talking to Unesco over the future of its World Heritage site.
But he said the city needed new developments like the stadium and would not be “threatened” by Unesco or heritage groups.
He said: “In Malcolm’s view they (Unesco) have made it clear they don’t want any development on the docks. That’s not going to happen.”
Asked about the Bramley Moore Dock stadium , he said: “We won’t please everyone. But I hope Unesco will have a questioning and pragmatic view of our vision that we’re trying to grow the economy. We’re trying to create job opportunities.
“We cannot preserve the city in aspic.
“We’re not trying to risk our world heritage status.
“It’s trying to build on that and make it a more attractive city for people to come to.”
Jonathan Brown, director of Liverpool planning consultancy Share the City, believes a compromise can be reached over the stadium.
He said: “There’s no reason we can’t have a world-class stadium on the waterfront as long as it is world class and we get the details right.
“Maybe there could be water round it to reference the dock. There could be all kinds of interesting design solutions that satisfy both the club and world heritage.
“If we’re smart about it, It could bring to life some of the old warehouses nearby. The Stanley Dock could become the Albert Dock of the North end and the stadium could become the ECHO Arena of the north end and more besides. Why not?
“But don’t set it against world heritage. World Heritage status hasn’t stopped New York or Beijing from developing. It shouldn’t be seen as something that’s stopping us.”