Liverpool has lost its World Heritage status after 17 years following a secret vote in a decision city leaders have blasted as 'incomprehensible'.
UNESCO's World Heritage Committee members today held a secret ballot and voted in favour of passing a draft recommendation that will see the city deleted from the World Heritage list after 17 years.
The votes took place at the annual summit in China this morning after delegates were initially split on whether to delete Liverpool's status or delay a decision for another year.
Delegates voted by 13 votes to five in favour of passing the recommendation to delete Liverpool from the World Heritage register, the Liverpool Echo reports.
The city was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2004, joining places including the Taj Mahal, Egypt's Pyramids and Canterbury Cathedral.
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The Merseyside city has been removed from its special position on the list
(Image: Getty Images)
But on Wednesday, following a secret ballot, the World Heritage Committee voted to remove the site from the list, in a decision described as "incomprehensible" by Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson.
Liverpool has been on the UNESCO 'danger' list since 2012, as the heritage body became increasingly concerned about the development of the city's north docks.
The principle concerns revolve around Peel's £5billion Liverpool Waters development.
The city's World Heritage Site stretches along Liverpool’s waterfront from the Albert Dock, through The Pier Head and up to Stanley Dock.
It continues through the historic commercial districts and Ropewalks area to St George’s Quarter which is home to the magnificent St George’s Hall.
Merseyside's jewel had been celebrated for its historic cityscape
(Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)
Liverpool's original bid for the status focused on the city as a major maritime mercantile city.
It reflected the city’s significance as a commercial port at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence.
The accolade is also a reflection of Liverpool’s architectural heritage – as the Albert Dock features more Grade-I listed buildings than anywhere else in the country.
However the now approved plans for Everton's new £500million stadium at Bramley Moore Dock had also been raised by the committee.
Discussions on the future for the city began on Sunday.
But by Monday, members had been unable to reach a consensus view and delegates from Norway proposed a secret ballot be held on the issue.
The committee also raised the now approved £500m plans for a new Everton Stadium
Announcing the decision on Wednesday, the committee's chairman Tian Xuejun said 20 votes had been cast.
Thirteen had been in favour of deleting the city, five had been against the proposal and two ballot papers had been invalid.
A report considered by the committee, meeting virtually and in person in Fuzhou, China, said: "The approved planning application for a new football stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock within the property adds to the ascertained threat on the property's outstanding universal value and is directly contrary to the approach requested by the committee for this property."
Mayor Anderson vowed to fight the city's removal from the list.
She said: "I'm hugely disappointed and concerned by this decision to delete Liverpool's World Heritage status, which comes a decade after UNESCO last visited the city to see it with their own eyes.
"Our World Heritage site has never been in better condition having benefitted from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment across dozens of listed buildings and the public realm.
"We will be working with Government to examine whether we can appeal but, whatever happens, Liverpool will always be a World Heritage city. We have a stunning waterfront and incredible built heritage that is the envy of other cities.
"Our commitment to maintaining and improving our buildings remains as strong as ever and will continue to be a key part of our drive to attract visitors, along with leisure, retail and events.
"I find it incomprehensible that UNESCO would rather Bramley Moore Dock remain a derelict wasteland, rather than making a positive contribution to the city's future and that of its residents.
"I'll now be seeking to draw together all the UK heritage bodies in a round table to plan a positive future with further investment."
Liverpool City Council said £700 million had been invested in upgrading historic assets within the site in the past few years.
A further £800m was due to be spent in the next five years, including on Everton's move from Goodison Park to the dock area.