As Everton FC starts work on its £500m stadium at Bramley Moore Dock it is urging fans to stay away from the site but is promising to install a live webcam. Tony McDonough reports
Everton FC has now taken possession of Bramley Moore Dock at Liverpool’s docklands as it starts work on its new £500m stadium.
Main contractor Laing O’Rourke is now starting enabling works at the site, a couple of miles north of Liverpool city centre and part of Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters scheme, which are expected to last 32 weeks. This first phase of what will be funded entirely by the club’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
The entire build is scheduled to take around 150 weeks in 12 separate phases. It is hoped the Blues will be able to kick off the 2024-25 season in their new home but the club is not making itself a hostage to fortune by making that a definite deadline.
It has been estimated the stadium will deliver a £1bn boost to the city’s economy and provide up to 15,000 jobs for local people (12,000 during the construction phase). It is also estimated that it will attract around 1.4m visitors to the city and more than £255m will be spent through the local supply chains.
On Monday evening, Everton stadium development director, Colin Chong, published an update on the project. He said he was “delighted” to finally take charge of the keys to Bramley Moore. However, he urged supporters to resist the temptation to come down to the site to see the work going on.
He said: “While this is a significant occasion for our club, I would urge supporters not to attempt to access the site. There is – and will continue to be – a lot of heavy goods vehicles arriving delivering plant equipment and supplies.
“There will be no public access through the gates at Bramley-Moore Dock and the health and safety of everyone on-site is a priority. In the coming weeks, we will be installing a web camera allowing you to see live images of what is happening at the site.
“In addition to the webcam we will also soon be launching a new project website which will house all our latest news and which will act as the portal for any questions you may have for us.”
Mr Chong said the enabling works involved preparing the dock site in readiness for the build. A process that will take several weeks. Part of this enabling work includes putting in place staff welfare facilities. He added there could be as many as 12,000 people working throughout the build phase.
While the infilling of the dock is still some weeks away, work has started on repairing the dock wall which will be preserved underneath the stadium. The team has also carried out several surveys beneath the water in the dock, including a search for unexploded World War II bombs. The docklands were peppered with ordnance by German bombers.
“Our next steps for the dock are to ensure we carefully remove and rehome any wildlife and other organisms in the water before we begin infilling the dock with sand from the Mersey estuary in the autumn,” added Mr Chong.
“The demolition of the existing non-listed structures is also still some weeks away but we need to make sure we have cleared the buildings of any unrequired materials and finalised our site clearance and demolition plans. It is our intention that we’ll be formally breaking ground on the eastern quayside in the early part of August.”
Heritage groups, as well as UNESCO, had put forward strong objections to the stadium, which involves filling in a Grade II-listed Victorian dock, but Mr Chong insists preserving, restoring and celebrating heritage was central to the project. Last week UNESCO removed World Heritage Status from Liverpool with the stadium a major factor.
However, Mr Chong explained: “There has been a lot of talk about heritage but we have been clear throughout our planning that respecting and enhancing heritage has always been one of our key principles.
“Our commitment to bringing the dock’s heritage features to life has not changed and we will be investing more than £55m to preserve, restore and celebrate the heritage assets at Bramley-Moore Dock.
“Indeed, this process has started already by repairing the listed dock wall and, in the coming days, we’ll begin stabilising the hydraulic tower. Once construction is complete we will be opening the inaccessible site up to the public for the first time in decades – allowing people to appreciate its heritage.”
The hydraulic tower will become a visitor centre on both match and non-matchdays and the team will be retaining the cobbles, capstans, mooring posts, gratings and railways lines and where possible incorporating them into the design.
The water channel that visually connects the neighbouring docks will be retained in honour of Jessie Hartley’s interconnecting dock system and, with the dock walls preserved under the stadium, should the club ever move from this site in the future, the site could actually be reverse-engineered back into a dock.
“I mentioned how crucial your involvement has been so far and I want to reiterate how crucial it will also be going forward,” Mr Chong said in a message to fans and the people of the city.
“We will continue working with supporter groups to ensure all aspects of our plans are built around our fan’s hopes and expectations and we will be contacting all our supporters with details about ticketing timelines and processes in the next few months.”