Human rights body Unesco granted the prestigious status to an area of the Merseyside city’s waterfront in 2004 – but warned eight years later about the potential impact of the Liverpool Waters scheme.
The body this summer suggested a two-year moratorium on development within the World Heritage Site, but Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson told the Liverpool Echo: "I am writing to Unesco to say we cannot and will not comply with their request.
"Part of the problem that we face is if we go out and say to people ‘please come and invest in our city’ but then say ‘you can’t put in a planning application for two years’ then our growth is going to suffer.
"We value the heritage status, but we can’t let it stifle the growth of our city."
Liverpool City Council said Unesco recognised progress made by the council in addressing its concerns over the World Heritage Site.
"Liverpool Waters is a long-term scheme which is being developed over the next few decades, and we are confident we will be able to address Unesco’s issues through the planning process," said a spokesman.
"The UK government is seeking clarification regarding the proposed moratorium on development. All developments within the World Heritage Site and buffer zone are carefully assessed in partnership with stakeholders and Historic England taking into account issues such as density, height, scale and the use of materials, and changes made where necessary.
The mixed-use Liverpool Waters scheme is intended to transform a 60-hectare stretch of the city’s northern docks.