City could lose coveted Unesco marque next summer

Liverpool has set up a taskforce to head off the threat of being dropped from Unesco’s list of cities with world heritage status.

The heritage group gave the city a final warning, saying it would be removed from the list of world heritage sites as early as next summer unless the city reconsidered plans for its historic Docklands area.

If that were to happen, it would be third city to be struck off the list – after Oman in 2007 and the German city of Dresden two years later.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said he hoped the group could “reset the relationship with Unesco”.

Announcing the decision to set up a taskforce, Anderson told heritage minister John Glen: “I welcome the Unesco challenge as it will enable us to highlight all the city’s achievements and re-energise the heritage agenda, which has been less visible than I would have liked.

“I have established a Liverpool world heritage board to review our position, involve all the city stakeholders, and engage directly with Unesco with the objective of reaching agreement on the way forward. With the support and input of the [Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport] I am sure this approach can ensure Liverpool’s world heritage status is secured.”

He said austerity had caused the city to lose focus on communicating the benefits that world heritage status brought to the economy, identity and self-esteem of Liverpool. But the council said almost £750m has been invested in historic assets within the Unesco-approved site, including the upgrade of 37 listed buildings since 2012.

The taskforce is headed by Sir David Henshaw, who was the chief executive at Liverpool city council when the city received the status in 2004, and includes Sir Neil Cossons, a former chair of English Heritage.