York could be on its way to gaining World Heritage status.
It was announced today (Monday) that York city centre has received Government backing to win the coveted status from Unesco.
Unesco’s World Heritage site system offers the opportunity for cultural and natural heritage sites to gain international recognition and promote themselves on a global stage.
York is among seven sites recommended for inclusion on the new UK Tentative List of World Heritage Sites.
That list is submitted by the government for consideration to Unesco every two years.
York’s historic centre, listed buildings and conservation areas are at the heart of its World Heritage Site bid.
The Unesco criteria for assessment includes a place which represents “a masterpiece of human creative genius”, an “outstanding example of a traditional human settlement” and exhibits “an important interchange of human values over a span of time”.
If approved at the next stages, York would join the likes of Edinburgh and Bath on the Unesco list, as well as Yorkshire landmarks Saltaire, Fountains Abbey and Haworth high street.
A panel of independent heritage experts assessed York’s application, with this feedback highlighting the strength of York’s bid:
- This extraordinary site demonstrates strong potential Outstanding Universal Value for the high level of continuity expressed through the civic and religious buildings and archaeology of this small city.
- This is a rich, complex site that possesses many of the attributes of a World Heritage city
- Authenticity and integrity were considered to be high, with good consideration of boundary and buffer zone.
The news was welcomed by the outgoing City of York Council leader, Cllr Keith Aspden.
“Many visitors and York residents would be surprised to hear York does not already have World Heritage status,” he said.
“With world renowned heritage, distinct and diverse communities, natural beauty and leading innovation – York truly has it all.
What is a World Heritage Site?
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance.
The sites are judged to contain “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity”.
The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity.
– Source: Wikipedia
“This high recognition by national heritage experts highlights our city’s outstanding beauty and historic importance nationally and globally.
“I’d like to thank all those involved in developing and supporting the bid over the last few years, particularly all the city partners on the York World Heritage Steering Group.
“York is already rightly recognised as a world-class retail, culture, and heritage destination. York embraces and values this heritage and will manage it sensitively so that the city continues as a vibrant, innovative, living city.”
York Central MP Rachael Maskell said: “This is such an important step for our city to not only celebrate all our cultural assets and past, but to build a visionary plan for our future.
“To reach the UNESCO criteria will be a significant challenge, but in getting this right, it will bring real opportunity and good quality jobs to York.
“I particularly want to thank Janet Hopton for her tireless work in taking York’s bid forward.”
Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “Today we are confirming our support for some of the most enchanting heritage sites and breathtaking landscapes in the UK and its overseas territories as they bid for Unesco World Heritage Site status.
“All the locations being put forward would be worthy recipients of this accolade – and we will give them our full backing so they can benefit from the international recognition it can bring.”
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport says it will now work with local authorities and devolved administrations to develop their bids.