The club has taken a huge step towards realising its ambition to relocate from Goodison Park to a 53,000-capacity stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool, after councillors brushed aside heritage-related concerns and granted the scheme planning consent.
Heritage protection charity Historic England and others had called for Liverpool City Council to refuse Everton FC’s plan to build a new stadium due to the “substantial harm” the scheme could cause the waterfront conservation area by infilling the listed dock.
Despite this, the council’s planning officers last week recommended that the scheme be approved and subsequently granted it planning approval today. The application still requires final sign-off by the Secretary of State.
Planning officer Peter Jones said Liverpool waterfront’s World Heritage status “should not act as an embargo to development” and members of the planning committee agreed that the benefits the £500m stadium would bring to the city far outweighed any harm it might cause.
The topic of development in and around Liverpool’s docklands and wider World Heritage Site, has sparked much debate among those who believe Liverpool’s Unesco status is good for the city and those who believe it holds back its growth.
Speaking at the planning committee meeting, Kirkdale councillor Joe Hanson labelled Historic England’s objections “insulting” and praised Everton FC for its proposals and approach to public engagement.
In an impassioned speech, Hanson said the stadium, part of Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters development, would have a huge positive impact on the people and economy of Liverpool and the wider North West region.
Steve Radford, leader of the Liberal Party Group, rubbished Historic England’s suggestion that redeveloping the listed dock would be harmful.
“Mothballing the site causes harm. Putting heritage sites to economic and viable use is how you give historic buildings a future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “For anyone serious about regeneration in North Liverpool, [the decision to approve the plans] was a no-brainer.”
Main contractor Laing O’Rourke hopes to start construction of the stadium this spring subject to final approval from Secretary of State for housing, Robert Jenrick.
Pattern Design is the sole architect for the project going forward after Meis Architects, which drew up concept designs, was dropped from the project team last summer.
Planit-IE is the landscape architect for the project and CBRE is the planning consultant.