A Liverpool One shopping area in the centre of Liverpool in January. Liverpool lost its UNESCO status Wednesday. File photo by Peter Powell/EPA-EFE
July 21 (UPI) -- Liverpool was removed from the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites on Wednesday after a committee cited concerns about significant developments on its historic Victorian waterfront.
A secret ballot was held in Fuzhou, China, and the committee voted in favor of a recommendation made in June.
But city leaders, including mayor Joanne Anderson disputed the decision, claiming that UNESCO hasn't visited the city since 2011 and that invitations to resolve the impasse were constantly made.
"The chief error is the assertion our World Heritage site has deteriorated," she wrote in her blog on Wednesday. "I'm sorry -- that is patently untrue. It is quite the reverse. In fact, Liverpool's site has never looked better."
The city's Local Plan addressing heritage issues will be adopted in the fall, but Anderson said UNESCO has been uncooperative.
"It's clear now that UNESCO didn't want to see. Or listen. Or engage," she said.
The move will be a blow to the prestige of the city in what the United Nations has called an "irreversible loss."
The city gained its world heritage status 17 years ago -- alongside wonders like the Great Wall of China and Taj Mahal -- for its role as a major trading hub for the British Empire.
It's the third place to lose its status in nearly 50 years. It's been in danger of losing its status since 2012 when UNESCO warned that the city's skyline was destroying the heritage value of its waterfront.
Projects like Peel Group's $6.5 million development Liverpool Waters led to "serious deterioration" and a "significant loss to its authenticity and integrity," according to the UN.
But Anderson said the original plans for the development didn't come to pass. She also said that plans for an Everton football stadium included a $68.5 million investment in the historic assets of the Bramley Moore Dock.
"Despite this loss, Liverpool will continue to invest in its historic buildings," Anderson said. "$1 billion is in the pipeline for the next 10 years."
Having status as a UNESCO site enables places to access conservation funding and protection under the Geneva conventions in the event of war.