Liverpool could lose favour if it messes with the Three Graces

For a century, mariners sailing into the Mersey port have been greeted by the majestic Three Graces. The Royal Liver Building and its less famous sisters, the Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings, have dominated the skyline and earned the waterfront international recognition in the form of Unesco World Heritage Site status, along with the Acropolis, the Pyramids, Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple, the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge and the Great Barrier Reef.

This Tuesday, however, that looks set to come to an end. The city is expected to approve the UK's biggest planning application: a £5.5bn development that will relegate the Three Graces to bit-players in a landscape dwarfed by skyscrapers.

The development will threaten the city's World Heritage status, putting it in line to become only the third place ever deleted from Unesco's list.

The planning decision is so controversial that, if passed, it will be subject to a legal challenge and referred to the Communities minister Eric Pickles.

Unesco has concluded in a report that the development would "irreversibly damage" the site, and "relegate The Three Graces to playing second violin".

Planning officials recommend that the council approves the project which is expected to create 20,000 jobs. Their report says that Unesco will add Liverpool to the "World Heritage in Danger" list, before deleting it from the main World Heritage list "if/when the 'damaging' components of the proposal are commenced".

English Heritage has formally objected, meaning that the development, if approved, will automatically be referred to Mr Pickles. Henry Owen-John, its regional director, said: "It is possible to have a scheme that delivers jobs and growth, without causing so much harm to the city's heritage."

The Victorian Society also objected, writing: "Dock walls and historical buildings would be completely overshadowed, literally and metaphorically."

Peel Holdings, behind the Liverpool Waters development, uses the cultural status to attract property buyers, promoting the "stunning Unesco-listed waterfront" in advertisements. Tourism brings in £3bn annually, with 42,000 jobs depending on it, according to the Mersey Partnership.

The Liverpool Preservation Trust, which launched an e-petition yesterday asking for the Department for Culture to scrutinise the application, is consulting barristers. Its founder Wayne Colquhoun, who hopes to mount a legal challenge, said: "Liverpool, a past European capital of culture, should be able to develop while protecting cultural assets, rather than turning it into Trafford Park-on-Mersey."

Peel Holdings, chaired by the billionaire Mark Whittaker, declined to comment on the development which includes 9,000 apartments, hundreds of offices and a cruise terminal.

Liverpool Council's chief executive, Ged Fitzgerald, confirmed the planning committee would make its decision this Tuesday.

Liverpool was awarded World Heritage Site status in 2004. If it loses that designation it will join a very short deleted list alongside Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, where prospecting for oil and poaching depleted the rare birds, and the Dresden Elbe Valley, which lost its status in 2009 after plans for the Waldschlösschen bridge were approved.

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick