Despite opposition from councillors and residents Liverpool FC is likely to win planning approval for its £60m plan to increase the capacity of its Anfield Road stand by 7,000. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool FC looks likely to secure planning approval for the £60m expansion of its Anfield Road stand, despite local opposition.
Councillors on the city’s planning committee will consider the proposal next week that will increase the capacity of the stand by 7,000 and take the overall capacity of the world famous stadium up to 61,000.
Planning officers are recommending approval for the project which follows the demolition and rebuilding of the arena’s main stand that was completed in 2016 and cost the club’s owner, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) £110m.
A new family fan zone and new hospitality lounges are included in the proposal and the club is also seeking permission for up to six non-sporting events a year to be held at the ground for a further five years.
In their report, the planning officers said: “The new stand offers a design proposal of the same architectural language as the new main stand, and the materials are appropriate and of sufficiently high quality for the location.
“Although the stand would be taller and closer to the park (Stanley Park) than the existing stand, it has been concluded that heritage the impact would not be significantly greater than the existing stadium.
“The new public realm design would offer a more fitting edge to the park than the existing Anfield Road car park and offer opportunities for artwork to be incorporated.”
Opposition to the scheme has come from people concerned about the impact on nearby Stanley Park and objectors include Liverpool Green Party leader Tom Crone, Liberal Party leader Steve Radford, the Friends of Stanley Park. People living close to the ground are objecting to the extension of the non-sporting events and all objectors will have the chance to address the committee next week.
In March, FSG sold a 10% stake in its business to a private investment firm part-owned by the former NBA star LeBron James in a £533m deal. The investment by RedBird Capital Partners valued FSG, also the owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, at around £5.33bn.
The cash injection will allow FSG to press ahead with the Anfield Road project but is unlikely to mean extra transfer funds for Reds manager Jurgen Klopp.