Government minister Robert Jenrick says he will not intervene to delay work on the £500m Everton FC stadium at Bramley Moore Dock in Liverpool docklands. Tony McDonough reports
Work on Everton FC’s new £500m stadium at Bramley Moore Dock is set to start in weeks after the Government said it was happy for the project to go ahead.
There were fears Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, would ‘call in’ the scheme leading to a planning inquiry and delays to the start of building work.
However, Mr Jenrick has rejected the objections of UNESCO, Heritage England and the Victorian Society and says he has no problem with the 52,888-capacity arena at Liverpool Waters going ahead. With a three-year build time Everton could kick off the 2024/25 season in the stadium.
The Government review, standard practice for a development of the size and scale of Everton’s stadium plans, was conducted after Liverpool City Council’s Planning Committee had unanimously approved the plans on February 23.
Fears of a delay to the development increased in mid-March when Mr Jenrick asked for more time to consider the scheme, given its scale and complexity. UNESCO, Heritage England and the Victorian Society had objected to the filling of the Grade II-listed Bramley Moore Dock.
The club received written confirmation from the Secretary of State on Friday. It allows Everton to complete its agreed acquisition of the site from Peel L&P and the funding for the project, ensuring it can begin to make the plans a reality.
It is estimated that the stadium development and plans for a Goodison Legacy will deliver a £1.3bn boost to the economy, create more than 15,000 jobs and attract 1.4m new visitors to the city. It is a critical piece of good news for Liverpool in a week when the council was heavily criticised in a damning Government report.
Everton said it would “like to thank every Evertonian, along with the many organisations, the tens of thousands of people across the city region and the team of dedicated staff who have played a vital role in ensuring the club reached today’s milestone”.
Once built, the 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.
As well as wider public approval, the stadium enjoyed strong support among Liverpool city region’s business community. Frank McKenna, chief executive of lobby group Downtown in Business, said: “This news could not have come at a better time for the city.
“I was always confident that the quality of the planning application made by Everton Football Club to develop the Bramley Moore Dock site was of such a calibre that it was impossible to turn down – but you never know until the final decision is made.
“This project, as we have said many times, is more than a football stadium. It acts as a catalyst for regeneration for the north of the city, creating jobs, growth and opportunity. We must also remember that this will also lead to the Goodison legacy project, ensuring investment into Walton and a huge improvement in service provision there.
“Following the governments critical report about the city council earlier in the week, this is a great way for Liverpool to bounce back. As I commented yesterday, the glass is still very much half full, despite the challenges at the Town Hall, and this planning approval demonstrates a genuine confidence from government that the city can deliver.”
Darran Lawless, director of development for Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters, added: “This is a unique opportunity for Liverpool and in particular the northern parts of this great city that are in need of continuing regeneration.
“Everton’s plans include impressive new public realm features such as a new stepped terrace, and opening up the historic waterfront which currently is not accessible to members of the public.
“The plans outlined go hand in hand with our own efforts to make the entirety of Liverpool’s waterfront a place for thriving businesses and diverse communities alike by creating thousands of new jobs, new homes and a destination for world class leisure and tourism.”