UNESCO World Heritage status could be sought for Chichester city centre

Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral

Chichester city centre could be in with a chance of achieving UNESCO World Heritage status, the Chichester Society believes.

The society is currently consulting its members on whether it should begin the long process of applying for the city to designated a world heritage site.

If successful, it would see Chichester city join the likes of Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal on the prestigious list of landmarks.

Christopher Mead-Briggs, executive committee member of the Chichester Society, said the suggestion was first put forward by one of its members.

“We thought the idea was worth pursuing,” he said.

“If nothing else, it brings into focus the architectural merits and enormous history of the city of Chichester.

“It could be quite a fun process.”

He said any possible application would focus on the 100 acre site within the city walls, including the Roman walls themselves, the cathedral, St Mary’s Hospital and the Georgian buildings.

Applicants had to prove that any prospective site had ‘outstanding universal value’, he said, adding: “Clearly that is quite a high bar.”

Submissions are considered by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, which draws up a list of potential sites from the UK and its overseas territories every few years.

The next list due to be drawn up in Winter 2020.

Competition is strong and Mr Mead-Briggs admitted; “It will be a challenge.”

However, he said: “If we managed to achieve it, it would put a spotlight on Chichester that there’s never been before.

“In terms of tourism and in terms of the appeal the city would have, it would improve the status of the city hugely.”

The idea has already received support.

Naturalist Richard Williamson said: “It’s an absolutely brilliant idea.

“There are many reasons why Chichester is one of the great centres of culture and there’s every reason why it should be given heritage status,”

He said the cathedral was a ‘magnificent building’ and one of the finest cathedrals in the world, adding that the view of the building from Kingley Vale was considered by Sir Arthur Tansley to be ‘the finest view in Britain’.

Among the city’s other assets listed by Mr Williamson were the ‘incomparable’ Chichester Harbour, the city’s Roman roads, its ‘lovely old buildings’ and its landscapes which inspired some of Keats’ most famous poetry.

The UK currently has 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – including Stonehenge, the city of Bath, Blenheim Palace and Maritime Greenwich.

The most recent addition is the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, which was awarded the status in July 2019.

What do you think of the idea? Get in touch at news@chiobserver.co.uk

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