Councillors on Liverpool City Council’s planning committee have given the green light to the proposed £500m stadium for Everton in Liverpool docklands. Tony McDonough reports
City planners have unanimously given the go-ahead to Everton Football Club’s £500m arena in Liverpool’s northern docklands.
Despite strong opposition to the plan from UNESCO, Heritage England and the Victorian Society, councillors on Liverpool City Council’s planning committee gave the green light to the project at a specially convened meeting on Tuesday.
The councillors are still considering an outline plan to transform the club’s current stadium at Goodison Park in Walton into a legacy project comprising affordable housing, a multi-purpose health centre, community-led retail spaces, a youth enterprise zone, office and business facilities and green space.
In their near 200-page report, the council planners said the stadium proposal is a “significant event in the history of the city” and “is a major decision for the local planning authority.”. It points out the project has broad public support and “would open up access to the part of the WHS which is not currently available to the public”.
Everton hopes to begin work at Bramley Moore Dock within Peel L&P’s £5bn Liverpool Waters project by the summer. Its 150-week, 12 stage plan could see the Blues kick off the 2024/25 Premier League season in their new home. It is estimated it will deliver £1.3bn in benefits to the economy, more than 15,000 jobs, during construction and afterwards, and an extra £1.7m in business rates.
However, final sign-off is still needed from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, who will review the application. This process typically takes no more than 21 days although it can take a little longer.
Given the strong heritage objections to the project, particularly from UNESCO which is concerned about the impact on Liverpool waterfront’s World Heritage Site, it is possible Mr Jenrick could ‘call in’ the scheme.
This would lead to a delay of at least several months while the plan was being considered by a planning inspector at an inquiry. The inspector would then give his or her final recommendation to the Secretary of State. Everton says it is prepared for such an eventuality. The club is confident it will having funding in place when the final go-ahead is given.
Once built, the 52,888-capacity stadium will be able to host four major non-football events (concerts or other sporting events) as well as conferences, exhibitions, banqueting, weddings and tours throughout the year.
The club says the new stadium will be the most sustainable in the Premier League. It will harness the natural elements around the stadium sun, water, wind and rain to create energy and reduce energy consumption. There will also be charging points for electric vehicles in the car park and cycle spaces.