This long report, containing the history of the proposal and relevant documents http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/WHS_dossier.pdf
given to the UNESCO inspectors, contains a lot of interesting stuff. Certainly it shows that Liverpool has not been unaware of the potential impact of this development on its UNESCO status and has put a lot of effort into considering the matter. In fact an air of injured innocence pervades those parts compiled by Liverpool council (some parts have been produced by others including Peel) – in particular the "unjust" way in which the 2011 World Heritage Committee made decisions on a report which Liverpool hadn't been given the chance to comment on and which it believes contains errors (see pp39).
So based on the OUV, UNESCO would need to clearly demonstrate how the development damages:
1.) innovative technologies and methods in dock construction and port management;
2.) an exceptional testimony to the development of maritime mercantile culture; and
3.) an outstanding example of a world mercantile port city, which represents the early development of global trading and cultural connections.
Yep, not much there about pretty buildings!
Relating to the question of how the development impacts the OUV the report contains details concerning separate "Heritage Impact Assessments"
carried out by "English Heritage" (summary only on page 99 see here for full report http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/Liverpool%20Waters%20FINAL%20RE PORT.pdf
) Liverpool (page 88ff) and twice by Peel (carried out by a respected independent and named expert consultant) on differing proposals (page 90ff). The former is is the one which UNESCO has seized upon as "concluding that overall there will be a significantly damaging impact on OUV"
. Liverpool's case is that there are pros and cons but that, taken across all relevant factors, there are actually overall benefits to Liverpool's OUV from the development.
I think the most interesting aspect to me is the methodology used to try to establish whether/how/to what extent OUV is going to be impacted. The approach itself has obviously been "under development" recently since the papers state that the Peel assessment had used "a methodology similar to the one subsequently recommended by ICOMOS"
Some Forum members may be more knowledgable about this methodology that I but it seems to consist of assessing the impact the development may have on a large range of factors regarding fabric and setting for each of the assets in the site and assigning an impact value to each from minor to major positive and negative. The overall result is then assessed. I think we have all used similar techniques in our own jobs – there are statistical problems of course since one really needs also to "weight" the factors and the assets. My own view is that such methodologies need to be used carefully and not given "mathematical credibility"! One may try to impose scientific objectivity to these matters but often this just hides the subjective nature of the assessments!
The Dresden decision seemed to be based on the view that the Bridge "destroyed" the Dresden Elbe Valley's OUV. This is clearly nonsense – it may have negatively impacted it to some degree but had it reduced it below a level ( i.e its UV had become less than "Outstanding"!) at which it still justified WHS status? I personally think not. Is the ICOMOS/UNESCO view that NOTHING should be done which in any way negatively impacts the OUV as assessed at inscription – such an absolutist view would seem impossible to maintain. If not then how big a negative impact (allowing also for positive impacts in the equation) should be "allowed". I think there is a great deal of woolly thinking around these matters and UNESCO/ICOMOS hasn't really thought it all through – hence the anomolies we all know about and the sense of injustice felt by those sites which are "targeted" by UNESCO!