Why 2021’s looking up for Liverpool, despite threat to our world heritage status’
2 years ago
Liverpool’s World Heritage status is hanging in the balance, after UNESCO recommended the city be deleted from its list of leading heritage sites worldwide.
It claims there has been a failure, locally and nationally, to protect Liverpool from large-scale development at the docks, pointing specifically to the £5 billion Liverpool Waters scheme and approved plans for Everton FC’s new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.
A vote next month will decide whether to take away the status which was granted to Liverpool in 2004.
Mayor Joanne Anderson says she will be urging committee members to “think twice” about removing the city and asking them to look again at what’s already been achieved over the past two years and what the council is aiming to achieve in the next 12 months.
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram has argued that Liverpool shouldn’t be faced with a choice of regeneration or heritage and wants the committee to hold off on a decision until they can come here and see for themselves what is being done.
Even Lord Heseltine, former Minister for Merseyside who oversaw the Royal Albert Dock regeneration in the ‘80s, has weighed in to defend Liverpool and the care it’s taken to protect heritage during times of change.
He has insisted UNESCO should not penalise Liverpool “for having the courage to move forward.”
So, as Liverpool focuses on coming back from the pandemic, how important is its World Heritage status?
Even with a big question mark hanging over our listing, here’s how the city is thriving again and looking forward positively …
The bounceback has begun – with £150m of funding
Things are looking up in terms of jobs and business recovery for the city region with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram getting approval for a £150m COVID Recovery Fund this month. The Mayor has said the new money “will give us a head start on the rest of the country” for business support and job creation.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport is taking off again too
JLA was obviously badly hit, like all airports, by travel restrictions but it’s predicted to be soaring again soon. John Irving, CEO of JLA, says recovery to its pre-pandemic five million passenger levels should be “very very quick”. “The airlines that we had before Covid are still here, still strong, still growing. We’ve announced new routes even in the downturns, and we’ve actually got a lot more capacity, hopefully Covid restrictions allowing, coming in next year.”
In 2021, JLA has already added new routes to Rome, Stockholm and Zadar in Croatia.
We’re on the UK staycation hot list
Liverpool’s visitor economy is worth billions to the city and before the pandemic more than 60milion people a year were coming to the region. The good news is that the things which brought them here … are still here! And, with a huge demand for UK holidays this summer, Liverpool is positioning itself as one of the must-go places thanks to its city-coastline-countryside triple threat.
A new ‘Get away to it all’ campaign has been launched by Marketing Liverpool to woo visitors back to cultural sights like St George’s Hall, the two cathedrals and our fabulous museums and galleries, great outdoor waterfront and beach attractions as well as food and drink venues.
We’ll always have the Reds and Blues
The terraces have been weirdly empty during lockdown restrictions, but once fans are allowed back we still have two of the biggest clubs in the world in our city and nobody can take that away from us!
We’re a major cruise destination
Cruise ships have been missing from the waterfront during the pandemic, but at the end of May the first one for 14 months – the Viking Venus – berthed at the terminal. Cruise passengers from home and abroad love coming to Liverpool and with ships finally setting sail again, even with reduced numbers onboard, Liverpool cruise terminal is expecting around 80 cruise ship calls this year.
Retail is bucking the trend and thriving
City centre retail has been booming since shops have been allowed to reopen with shoppers desperate to get back inside and buying again. Iain Finlayson at Liverpool ONE says footfall there has recovered to only slightly behind where it was in 2019 and the amount being spent per person is “extraordinary” because of pent-up demand.
Liverpool’s seen new restaurants, bars and hotels opening up in the past couple of months too which is a sure sign of strong confidence in the city.
We’ve taken the battle against Covid inside and out
We’re always up for a challenge and Liverpool has been at the forefront in the fight against Covid – in communities which showed incredible generosity and heart, our fabulous NHS and care workers, and also in staging the largest pilot event programme in the UK to get things opened up again.
Big events are coming
Liverpool is well-known as an events city – you only had to see the crowds that came out for the River of Light trail this spring to know that. We’re great hosts and, after the huge success of the Netball World Cup here in 2019, we will be welcoming the World Gymnastics Championships in 2022.
Before that, Liverpool Without Walls, which has helped hospitality keep going over the past months, is offering extra funding for outdoor events and festivals so expect to see – and get involved in – plenty more coming soon.