The city has to grow and we have protections in our planning system. To say we are destroying Liverpool is untrue, says its mayor, Joanne Anderson

The iconic Liver Birds sit atop the Royal Liver Building, proudly watching over Liverpool and its people. Legend has it that, if these birds ever fly away, the city will cease to exist.

Joanne Anderson Headshot

I am so proud of our beautiful maritime city and the stories it tells. It was a bitter disappointment when I found out that we had lost our Unesco world heritage status, denying us the opportunity to demonstrate how development and heritage are not mutually exclusive but can exist together in harmony.

Since hearing of the decision, I have made it clear that I find it incomprehensible that Unesco would prefer that Bramley Moore Dock – a bone of contention for the organisation – remains a derelict wasteland rather than be regenerated. This would breathe new life into one of the most deprived areas of Britain and benefit the whole city.

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I vowed when I became mayor that I would strive to make Liverpool a city of opportunity, especially for our young people. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the regeneration of the north docks is critical to our recovery, creating 15,000 jobs and boosting the local economy by £1bn. I am simply not prepared to lose that opportunity for a heritage label.

We have promised inclusive growth in our city, but this growth will be managed with sustainability and education at its heart. We are looking at new ways in which we can protect our heritage with a local charter, independent champion and heritage board. We are considering embedding protections further into our planning system through local planning policy and using sites we own on the waterfront to demonstrate real leadership in design quality and community engagement.

To say that development is destroying what makes Liverpool special simply is not true. What makes us special cannot be measured or mapped and it certainly cannot be decided by a heritage body situated hundreds of miles away.

To say that development is destroying what makes Liverpool special simply is not true. What makes us special cannot be measured or mapped

It is the feeling visitors get when they are welcomed with open arms as one of our own. It is the soul-soaring music produced by our world-class artists. It is the plays, art and poetry that are the lifeblood of the city. It is the warmth and the humour that greet you wherever you go. It is the fierce loyalty of the fans to two of the greatest football clubs in the world. We are a living heritage that is evolving every day.

Liverpool has known heartache and hardship but we are resilient and will rise after every setback. While we have experienced a renaissance in the last 15 years, many remember a very different city. A time when Liverpool was flattened and destroyed after the war and sent into “managed decline” in the 1980s. We owe it to these people to keep growing and building on their vision of a better time.

But looking to the future doesn’t mean forgetting our past. Our breathtaking skyline and majestic buildings will continue to be a priority and will continue to be a magnet for the millions of visitors who flock to the city year after year.

Seven hundred million has been spent preserving and upgrading our buildings in the past 10 years, with more earmarked for the coming years. Everton Football Club plan to invest £500m in the historic assets of Bramley‑Moore Dock.  

With or without an accolade, we will always be a World Heritage City. Just as history was written in the past, developing Liverpool is simply continuing the story. We will make those who went before us proud – and we won’t do it tied to the conditions of a heritage body with no idea who we are and what we are about. Liverpool is a city with #NoLabelsNeeded.

Joanne Anderson is a former city councillor and mayor of Liverpool since May 2021