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We have applied for a place on the new UK Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. We were supported by the York World Heritage Steering Group. If successful, this will be the first step towards York gaining World Heritage Site status.

This bid follows on from an unsuccessful bid made in 2010. At that time, the Expert Panel that assessed applications on behalf of the government recommended that York should revise its nomination. They advised that we include references to York's above and below ground heritage and resubmit when the Tentative List is next reviewed.

York’s application must demonstrate that York meets one or more of UNESCO’s criteria for Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

The York World Heritage Steering Group considers that York's OUV is the outstanding example of urban development originating with Roman occupation in northern/north-Western Europe, with exceptional evidence of its Roman origins and of all successive periods up to the modern day. No other urban sites on the World Heritage List in northern/north-Western Europe have OUV defined in this way.

Evidence for these periods is preserved in:

  • the town plan
  • buildings
  • archaeological deposits
  • objects
  • documents
  • archives

York is the pre-eminent historic urban centre in northern England, for many centuries the second city of England, at times centre of government. Developing around a strategic tidal river crossing, it has been a key part of a network of national and European communications and trading links since its establishment c71 CE by the Romans.

Background

York was unsuccessful in its bid in 2010 for a place on the UK World Heritage Tentative List. That bid was based on York's remarkable below ground anoxic archaeological deposits. However, the assessing panel recognised that York was an English city of great importance, second only to London, and recommended York should revise its nomination to include both its above and below ground heritage and try again. As the Tentative List is reviewed every 10 years, this meant that York has had to wait until the Tentative List review was announced in March 2022.

We agreed in 2011 that the York World Heritage Steering Group should work towards this and be able to advise the council on making another bid when the next opportunity arose in 10 years' time.

2 independent consultations of residents before the 2010 bid had shown overwhelming support for York becoming a World Heritage Site and consultations for other council projects since then had shown the high value residents placed on preserving York's heritage.

In 2020, to remind residents of York's aspiration for World Heritage status now the opportunity to apply again was only a couple of years away, the Steering Group planned to have “Conversations” with residents around World Heritage and its implications for York if successful. The first, a panel and audience discussion event in the University of York's Festival of Ideas happened in June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the panel became a virtual “Conversation” which was viewed by over 350 people. View the slides from the York World Heritage City conversation which was delivered online.

The Steering Group's comprehensive Advisory Report for the City of York Council started its progress through Council in February 2022. The Report included the background to and process for gaining World Heritage status, its implications, benefits and challenges for York, and the revised bid.

Read the Executive, Thursday 21 April 2022, 5.30pm.

The Tentative List was opened for applications at the end of March 2022 with a closing date of Friday 15 July. On Sunday 17 April 2022, the Council Executive agreed the Report's recommendation to make an application for World Heritage status for York.

There have been many applications and the assessing Panel is expected to announce in the New Year the very small number selected to prepare a more detailed bid for the next step towards World Heritage status.

Also see

Heritage Gateway

Search local and national records of England's historic sites and buildings.

Heritage Gateway

Archaeology

City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA