Sharing our World Heritage ambitions
In July, Port Sunlight Village Trust submitted an application to the UK Government’s Tentative List for Port Sunlight to be recognised as a World Heritage Site, with support from strategic partners Wirral Council, National Museums Liverpool and Unilever. The bid is part of a 10-year plan to manage the heritage of the village.
We think there are several opportunities and benefits to be gained from achieving World Heritage Site status, including:
- Greater national and international recognition of Port Sunlight’s value
- Providing another valuable tool to deliver a sustainable future for Port Sunlight
- Ensuring that local communities have a stronger influence on decisions that may affect them and Port Sunlight
- New opportunities to attract tourists and visitors to Port Sunlight and the wider area
- Strengthening funding bids for projects in and around the village
- Increasing the sense of pride and belief in the value of Port Sunlight
The research and community consultation behind our Tentative List application has been presented in a new report by Heather Alcock, PSVT’s Project Officer (World Heritage).
To download and read Port Sunlight’s Built Heritage in a Global Context, click here.
We’ve put together some FAQs about World Heritage Status and what it might mean for Port Sunlight. You can download a digital copy: Click Here
Why are we doing this? And why now?
We firmly believe that World Heritage Site status offers us another way to unlock the potential of Port Sunlight as a truly remarkable place to live, work and visit. It is happening now because of UK government and UNESCO processes (UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and they designate World Heritage Sites). The timing is not being driven by Port Sunlight Village Trust or Wirral Council.
This isn’t a priority for me or the village right now, will this distract from other investment?
The costs for this stage of the process are relatively small and a budget has been agreed. The process is spread over a long period and so it won’t distract from other ongoing opportunities. In fact, it is having a positive effect on planning and collaborative working.
What will World Heritage Site status mean for future developments, changes or improvements to Port Sunlight?
As well as offering us a tool to help unlock more funding, World Heritage Site status will also allow us to better justify the need for improvements and changes in the Village and its surroundings. If we’re successful, it will also mean that we have to maintain a high standard for any changes in terms of designs, materials and how they “fit in” with the place. This will help safeguard and improve Port Sunlight. Overall, we see no evidence that World Heritage Site status will prevent improvements in Port Sunlight. In fact, we think it will help us unlock funding for those improvements and ensure the quality of any changes.
Will World Heritage Site status impact on what I can do to my home?
No. The current listed building and conservation area regulations will remain in place and will guide the way in which we can change our homes.
Can we make sure Port Sunlight can cope with more tourists and visitors?
Yes, we can. If we plan for it. We need to put the right facilities in place and market Port Sunlight to the right audiences who will enjoy and respect the village and residents. We are already beginning to plan for this and are exploring ways of ensuring that any growth in visitor numbers does not affect the quality of life of residents and supports local businesses. We will be consulting with you about this in the coming years.
What about the experience of World Heritage Site status in Liverpool?
As you may know, the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City World Heritage Site was revoked in 2021. However, Liverpool’s World Heritage Site was very different to Port Sunlight. We’re not dealing with the same development pressures so close to the village. Other World Heritage Sites in the UK that are more like Port Sunlight such as Saltaire and New Lanark have been successful in remaining active living places, with an appropriate level of development and change without loss of their World Heritage Site status.
I’ve heard Birkenhead Park is also applying, how will the council support two competing bids?
Wirral Council is committed to supporting both proposals and believes both are worthy of World Heritage Site status, reflecting the global influence that the Wirral has had on town planning. There are no restrictions on areas of the UK having more than one World Heritage Site – for example London has four. Additionally, if both sites are lucky enough to make it onto the tentative list, Port Sunlight and Birkenhead Park would not be nominated for full inscription at the same time. Wirral Council can therefore support both without a conflict of interest.
What is the process and what are the next steps?
Initially we’re preparing a bid to the UK government who will then nominate sites to UNESCO over the next decade. The earliest Port Sunlight could become a World Heritage Site would be 2025, but more likely 2027 onwards. Inclusion on the UK’s tentative list is competitive and being nominated isn’t guaranteed either. So, it’s really not a quick process.
- Up to July 2022 – Bidding to the UK government to be included on the tentative list
- Winter 2022 – UK Government announce their tentative list
- 2022 – 2032 – UK will nominate one site every couple of years
- If we are nominated – UNESCO make a preliminary assessment of bid, we then submit it and then they make a final decision – this process can take up to 3 years.
What happens next
Stakeholder consultation concerning Port Sunlight’s World Heritage bid has now closed and our application to the UK Government for the village to be recognised as a World Heritage Site has been submitted. Port Sunlight Village Trust would like to thank residents, businesses and visitors for their invaluable contributions to our bid.
While we await the outcome of the UK Government’s assessment process, we will be publishing a series of studies that sit behind our bid. These include the outcome of the stakeholder consultation and the research undertaken into Port Sunlight’s global value. Keep an eye on our website and socials in August for more information.
If you have any questions, concerns or opportunities you would like to raise with us, please email email@example.com.