Everton submits stadium amendment in bid to placate pressure groups

Bramley-Moore west stand

Everton Football Club has, this afternoon, formally submitted to Liverpool City Council an amendment to plans for its proposed £500m stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

The change to the application for its 52,888-seat stadium on the banks of the River Mersey addresses feedback from statutory consultees to the original planning application submitted in December 2019.

Everton’s proposed stadium sits within Liverpool Waters, Peel L&P’s £5.5bn waterfront development which forms part of the city’s newly-launched North Shore vision for its northern docklands.

The club says the new stadium and a legacy project at Goodison Park will act as a catalyst for the city’s regeneration ambitions, contributing a £1bn boost to the region’s economy, creating up to 15,000 jobs and attracting 1.5m visitors to the city each year.

However, heritage body Historic England wants the plans to be called in by the Secretary of State, which could seriously delay the club’s plans to start work on site early in 2021.

Heritage England is unhappy with proposals to infill the Grade II-listed Bramley Moore Dock, arguing: “The loss of the water would result in substantial harm to the significance of Bramley-Moore Dock and cause harm to the World Heritage Site.”

The club has argued that its plans allow the site to be reverse-engineered back into a dock should it decide to move, or relocate, in the distant future.

The most visual of the club’s design improvements submitted today is around the West Stand – the stand facing the River Mersey – with the introduction of a new stepped plaza and the removal of a multi-storey car park.

Colin Chong, Everton Stadium development director said: “We have further enhanced one of the most exciting development projects in the country.

“By working closely with Liverpool City Council and all our key stakeholders we have refined our plans to ensure a better connection between the stadium and the river.

“The public stepped plaza will become a high-quality start and end to the planned river walk and a destination benefiting the local community as well as visitors to the city on non-matchdays.”

The club said Bramley-Moore Dock’s location within Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Stanley Dock Conservation Area has been fundamental to how the project has been designed and planned.

Working closely with Liverpool City Council, Historic England, as well as other heritage bodies, the stadium has been designed to respect and preserve the heritage of the area, while bringing a long-standing semi-derelict dockland site back into productive use.

A water channel would be maintained to the West of the stadium to ensure the visual continuity of the dock system – a key feature of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site – with the historic dock wall on the Western side of the channel exposed.

The site’s Grade II-listed Hydraulic Tower would be restored to create a unique visitor attraction, attracting tourists on non-matchdays, and a range of Bramley-Moore Dock’s historic features, including capstans, mooring posts and old railway tracks, will be retained and restored within a high-quality public realm area.

Mr Chong added: “This will be a transformational development for not just North Liverpool but for the Northern Powerhouse.

“If we are granted planning approval, this will be a world-class football stadium in an iconic location and a key part of the city, city region, and the UK’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan.

“We have invested an enormous amount of resource and effort in creating a design that not only respects and looks at home in a dockland setting, but will also restore and preserve the historic features of Bramley-Moore Dock and, importantly, open a currently inaccessible site to the public.”

The planning milestone follows a series of comprehensive public, fan and stakeholder engagement which has highlighted the overwhelming support for the proposals from local politicians, local residents, the business and third sector community, as well as the more than 60,000 people who took part in two public consultations – regarded as one of the biggest commercial consultations to have ever taken place in the Liverpool City Region.

The next step is for Liverpool City Council to review and process the amended planning application before starting its formal public consultation period.

Led by the council, the public consultation is a legal requirement that is anticipated to last 28 days and offers the public an opportunity to comment on the club’s amended planning application.

Everton, being advised by the CBRE UK Planning & Development team, said it has worked closely with the Liverpool Planning Authority and Historic England to shape the application and ensure the required detail is included to enable the proposals to be appropriately considered.