West Derby councillors demand full public say on future of Liverpool FC’s Melwood site

This week the club revealed its intention to quit the historic training site in a £50m plan that would see a major expansion of its Kirkby Academy. Tony McDonough reports.

Liverpool FC is to leave its Melwood training ground after 60 years. Picture by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Local councillors in West Derby say the views of people living around Liverpool FC’s current training ground at Melwood must be “fully heard” before the site is redeveloped.

This week the club revealed its intention to quit the historic site in a £50m plan that would see a major expansion of its Kirkby Academy.

Liverpool has reached an agreement with Knowsley Council that would see it purchase 14 acres of land at Simonswood Playing Fields at the rear of the academy.

The club is set to launch a consultation with Knowsley residents over the plans.

New homes plan

Melwood has been the club’s training base since the 1950s and when it eventually leaves there are plans proposed that would see 160 new homes built on the site.

Now six local councillors – representing the West Derby and Yew Tree Wards – have issued a statement insisting the local community must be fully consulted on the plans.

Issued by Cllrs Pam Thomas, Daniel Barrington, Lana Orr, Tony Concepcion, Barbara Murray and John Prince, the statement says: “Having had a very constructive meeting with Liverpool FC we understand their reasons for wanting to move from Melwood.

“But we also know any future development of the site will have a big impact on the local community and their views need to be fully heard.

“The club have assured us that there will be a public consultation before any planning permission is sought and that is the right approach, as we saw with the recent development at Anfield.

“As ward councillors we will ensure residents will be fully engaged at every step.

“Questions around traffic congestion, parking, over development, loss of green space and school places all need to be answered and we will continue to speak with the club on these matters.”

Long-term ambitions

Earlier this week Liverpool FC’s  operating officer Andy Hughes said Melwood was “unable to accommodate our longer term ambitions”.

“We recognise that Melwood has played a significant role in the club’s success and forms an important part of our history. However, the site is limited in space.”

Liverpool has revealed a £50m expansion plan for its academy at Kirkby. Picture courtesy of Liverpool FC

Shankly’s vision

When legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly arrived at the club in 1959 he was dismayed the the poor state of the facilities at Melwood, which had previously belonged to a local school, St Francis Xavier.

Players would have to meet and get changed at Anfield before being bussed out to West Derby. following training they would have to return to Anfield to get showered and changed.

He made sure it was transformed into a top class training facility as part of his plan to turn Liverpool into a “bastion of invincibility”.

In January 2001 Melwood, under then manager Gerard Houllier, Melwood saw the construction of the Millennium Pavilion, a modern facility for players and coaches.

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