Everton’s proposed £500million new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock has moved a significant step closer to becoming reality, with a Liverpool City Council planning report recommending approval of the project.
A near 200-page report on the plans for a 52,888-capacity stadium appears positive. It will be situated within the city’s historic docks, a World Heritage Site.
And the report called the application a “significant event in the history of the city”. The report found Everton’s proposals “have broad popular support overall” and that “substantial public benefits far outweigh any heritage harm”.
The plans will now be considered at a special planning committee meeting on February 23. If approved, they will then be automatically referred to central government for a final decision.
If all goes well, the club hope to be on site no later than this summer to begin construction. It is expected to take three years, meaning the Toffees could be in their new home in time for 2024-25.
The central issue in considering the plans has been the location of the site. The club said it was the only viable option out of 52 considered.
Though the stadium has gained wide public support, objections have been raised by heritage body ICOMOS. They are acting on behalf of UNESCO, as well as the Victorian Society and Historic England.
The report concludes that the plans could actually deliver ‘heritage benefits’ as well as harm. That would be by “enhancing degraded on-site heritage assets, improving access to the World Heritage Site and unlocking access to the history”.
Reds fans on board
A major public consultation in which more than 63,000 people took part found strong support for the project. Approval rates of 80 per cent or above were recorded in every demographic – including Liverpool fans.
The club have argued that the project can play a key role in Liverpool’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The stadium and a multi-purpose redevelopment of Goodison Park will generate a £1.3billion boost to the local economy.
The planning application would allow Everton to host up to four major events such as concerts or other sporting events each year. If Liverpool City Council give the project the nod, plans will be referred to Robert Jenrick.
He is Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and has 21 days to make a final decision. The club would then finalise funding and a building schedule.
The estimate of 150 weeks of work takes into account the impact of current restrictions due to the pandemic.
READ MORE: Ancelotti confirms contract update