Affordable housing developer Torus acquired the iconic Liverpool FC Melwood training ground in 2019 and was to build a £48m housing development – but now the club has bought it back. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool FC has bought back its iconic Melwood training complex which it sold to affordable housing provider Torus in 2019.
In December 2022 LBN reported Torus had secured planning consent to build 162 homes at the West Derby site in a £48m project. However, this latest deal, the value of which was not disclosed, will mean the plan will not go ahead.
Instead, Liverpool FC will create a new base for the Liverpool FC Women’s first team and academy. LFC also has plans to use the site for community outreach facilities for its LFC Foundation programmes.
It will also offer education to young people via the Fowler Education and Football Academy (FEFA).
A planning application will be brought forward to support these aspirations in due course, which will require the support of local residents and the wider community.
Liverpool FC began using Melwood as its training base in the 1950s. When legendary Reds manager Bill Shankly arrived in 1959 he oversaw its transformation into a top class facility for the first team.
In 2020 Jurgen Klopp and his players used Melwood for the final time before relocating to a £50m purpose-built training facility at the Liverpool FC Academy in Kirkby.
Torus also secured £2.43m from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Brownfield Land Fund for the remediation of the site.
It had proposed to build 59 houses and seven bungalows. This project was also to include an extra care scheme comprising 96 one and two-bedroom apartments.
Last summer a number of local residents objected to the new homes plan. They claimed it would cause traffic congestion and would put extra strain on local community facilities.
In a statement on Thursday, Torus said: “From the outset, Torus has been keen to respect the history of Melwood and its place within the local community. It has therefore worked closely with LFC regarding the preservation of its sporting legacy.”
Managing director Chris Bowen added: “All our developments are designed to help transform places and inspire growth.
“We believe Liverpool FC is best placed to use this location to support the growth of women’s football and to maximise the benefit of the site to the wider community.”
LFC has looked at a number of options for alternative sites in recent years to develop into a top-level training base for the women’s first team and Category 1 Professional Game Academy that could sit alongside a strong community hub.
The intention is Melwood will offer an elite facility that enables LFC Women’s first team to continue to compete at the highest level, attracting, developing and retaining the best talent in the game.
As part of the move, the LFC Women crest will move to the official club crest to further demonstrate the team’s inclusivity and being very much part of Liverpool FC.
Andy Hughes, managing director of LFC, said: “This is a truly historic moment for Liverpool Football Club and the continued desire of the LFC Women board to elevate and develop our women’s first team and Category 1 Professional Game Academy.
“Now is the right time to make this move and we’re absolutely delighted that we’ve managed to take this opportunity to return to Melwood and to see it start a new chapter of Liverpool’s commitment to our women’s first team and academy.”