Chatham's second bid for Unesco World Heritage status has been rejected in favour of Lake District
Medway has today failed in a second bid to be considered for World Heritage Site status.
The application - which included Chatham's historic dockyard, the Great Lines, Fort Amherst, Upnor Castle and the River Medway - has lost out to the Lake District.
The national park in Cumbria has been chosen to go forward as the UK's next World Heritage nomination in 2016, culture minister Ed Vaizey announced today.
Chatham Historic Dockyard was part of the World Heritage Status bid
Bill Ferris, chief executive of Chatham's Historic Dockyard, described the announcement as "very disappointing".
The historic site was rejected during its first bid for the status in June 2012. Last time, it lost out to the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland.
Since it was first rejected, Chatham's submission has undergone significant work. Medway Council, which led the bid along with the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and English Heritage, held exhibitions and consultations at the end of last year.
Bill Ferris, chief executive of The Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust
Cllr Rodney Chambers, leader of Medway Council, said: "Everybody behind the bid – which includes the council, the historic dockyard, Fort Amherst, the Royal Engineers and local residents – has worked extremely hard and achieved so much to get to this stage.
"I would like to thank them for their hard work, dedication and support.
"I strongly believe that Chatham's Dockyard and its defences has a huge amount to offer, that we have created a significant amount of publicity, which has boosted tourism..." - Cllr Rodney Chambers
"Chatham's Dockyard and its defences have an unrivalled and illustrious history and is the world's most complete example of an historic dockyard from the age of sail and early age of steam (1700 – 1865).
"It was also instrumental in securing and maintaining Britain's worldwide influence, leading the world in industrial design, naval architecture and military technology.
"The area includes over 60 scheduled ancient monuments and 150 listed buildings, covering the Historic Dockyard, Fort Amherst, Upnor Castle, Brompton Village and Barracks, The Royal Engineers Museum, the Great Lines and the River Medway.
"I strongly believe that Chatham's Dockyard and its defences has a huge amount to offer, that we have created a significant amount of publicity, which has boosted tourism.
"It is also important to note how much the area has changed since the closure of the Royal Navy dockyard 30 years ago in terms of regeneration. The World Heritage Bid has played a significant part in that. That will not end with this decision.
"The bid has brought many benefits, not least promoting an awareness of Chatham's heritage both nationally and internationally but also helping to encourage investment in Medway's future. That work will continue."
Upnor Castle in Upper Upnor
Bill Ferris, chief executive of Chatham's Historic Dockyard, said: "Although the news is obviously very disappointing after so much work has gone into the process, all is not lost.
"There is no doubting the international significance of the heritage and the process has already brought many tangible benefits from the creation of a range of community interest groups to millions of pounds of funding to conserve the heritage.
"That process of celebrating the heritage and placing it at the forefront of the regeneration process, in place since the Royal Dockyard closed 30 years ago in March, will continue with renewed momentum.
"The announcement of £8.75m funding for the Historic Dockyard's latest project, Command of the Oceans will ensure that the world class heritage is seen in its rightful context and tell the internationally important part that Chatham has played in world history with the outstanding heritage surviving as physical evidence for all to see."
The Lake District has been selected as the UK's World Heritage Status nomination
An independent expert group assessed bids from sites that came forward and the Lake District was recommended as the next site to be invited to prepare a nomination to Unesco in 2016.
Mr Vaizey said: "The UK's heritage is world renowned and the Lake District, England's largest National Park is one of our heritage jewels.
"The Unesco nomination process can be very demanding and success is not guaranteed but I believe the Lake District deserves to be recognised and inscribed as a World Heritage Site and I wish all involved the very best."
The Lake District bid will undergo a demanding process of scrutiny and evaluation by Unesco and its advisory body, the International Council on Monuments and Sites.
Unesco's World Heritage committee is expected to take the final decision in June 2017.
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