A business leader has warned that Liverpool will lose Billions of Pounds of future investment if UNESCO listen to the pleading of some in the city and agree to maintain its status as a World Heritage Status site.
The chief executive of private sector lobby group Downtown in Business, Frank McKenna said:
“Retaining World Heritage Status now would be a disaster. Investors will have been watching carefully to see what happened with the Bramley Moore Dock development.
“What we have witnessed is a company, in the form of Everton Football Club, coming forward, in partnership with the City Council, to develop an iconic football stadium, creating thousands of jobs, and acting as a catalyst for economic growth and jobs in one of the most deprived parts of the city.
“The club then undertook two extensive consultation exercises with the city’s community, winning the support of over 80% of residents for its plans.
“Further, they invested hundreds of thousands of pounds to come forward with a proposal that went way beyond what any reasonable observer would expect, to retain the heritage features of the site that they are building on – a closed off, derelict dock next to a sewerage plant.
“After this two and a half year painstaking process, Everton won the unanimous backing of Liverpool City Council, whilst at the same time developing a social value project for the existing Goodison Park site that is, in itself, a massively beneficial project for the city.
“UNESCOs reaction to these efforts was for them to tell Liverpool City Council that the plan was not acceptable, instruct the local authority to put a stop to all future planning applications in the city centre, and threaten the removal of World Heritage Status.
Mr. McKenna continued:
“I have said for many years that WHS is a vanity badge that is not worth having. UNESCO are a faceless bunch of bureaucrats who have no idea and no interest in our city. They do not have a balanced approach to development, and no clue about economic growth.
“What the Bramley Moore dock objection demonstrates, and why this is dangerous for the city’s future investment prospects, is that – whereas Everton had little option but to go the extra mile and invest all the additional cash and resource they did to get their initiative over the line- no other global investor would have to or be prepared to do that.
“A Google, an Apple or a Tesla can take their money anywhere in the world. And if they were looking to do something innovative in the UK, why would they want to add to the red tape, bureaucracy, and cost of an already expensive planning process, when they can simply go to Manchester, Leeds, or Birmingham without worrying about the views of those who have a nineteenth century view of a twenty-first century world?
“Before the Everton project, people could argue that UNESCO was a reasonable organisation who would balance practical considerations and economic impact of any schemes with the wider heritage considerations. They do not do that, and they never will. It is time for Liverpool to wake up to the fact that this prize is not worth the potentially catastrophic price.”