York has made a second bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, following the government’s rejection back in 2011.
Currently, only Saltaire and Studley Royal Park (including the ruins of Fountains Abbey) are protected as World Heritage sites here in Yorkshire, as a result of having “cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance”.
York would be legally protected as a landmark if it were to become successful in achieving World Heritage status.
UNESCO “seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage” around the world, and has 1154 properties globally on the World Heritage list.
Famous sites include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.
York City Council believes the city has “a high proportion of well-preserved historic buildings” that meet UNESCO’s criteria for “outstanding universal cultural value”, and has submitted another bid in the hopes that York could benefit from the “significant economic and social benefits” that would come with the privilege.
John Oxley, York’s former city archaeologist, said: “The proposal identifies York’s outstanding universal value as being the outstanding example in northwest Europe of urban development that commences in the Roman period and continues from 71 AD as a living city, down to the present day.”
The council’s executive member for culture, leisure and communities, Councillor Darrryl Smalley, said: “I think many visitors to York would be surprised to hear York does not already have world heritage status.”
York City Council says: “The city, intensively occupied for 2000 years, has generated thick archaeological deposits, many preserved in anoxic conditions, which provide a uniquely representative and well-preserved record of human urban settlement over 2 millennia.
Adding: “The city boasts a near-complete set of stone defences, 2 castle sites, a Gothic cathedral, 4 medieval guildhalls, 20 ancient churches, the King’s Manor, 18th century architectural masterpieces, and the UK’s first Mansion House.”