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Threat to Liverpool's World Heritage Site

English Heritage has warned that the Shanghai-style redevelopment of Liverpool's historic waterfront could harm the city's World Heritage Site.

Plans to build skyscrapers on derelict docklands close to the Three Graces include the construction of a 55-storey building which would be the largest in Britain outside London. Developers claim the £5.5bn project will make Liverpool into a waterside tourist destination on a par with New York, Sydney or Shanghai.

But after drastically reducing the scale of its original scheme, Peel Holdings is pushing ahead, despite having failed to reach agreement with English Heritage over the plan, which was formally submitted in October last year.

The watchdog questioned the impact on the existing Unesco- designated Pier Head. A spokesman said: "English Heritage fully supports the principle of a major scheme of regeneration in the Central Docks. However, we have advised Liverpool City Council that what is proposed could harm the World Heritage Site."

Although English Heritage has no power to stop the proposal, it can refer the matter to the Secretary of State.