Proposals from Liverpool FC to redevelop the stadium’s Anfield Road End with a 7,000-seat expansion and to host up to six concerts a year are earmarked for council approval.
Liverpool City Council’s planning committee meets next week to consider the plans, which were trailed in 2019 but postponed a year ago amid Covid-related uncertainty.
LFC’s intention is that the project is completed within two close season periods, with the existing stand remaining in use while the new stand is constructed behind.
KSS is the project architect, Turley the planner. The professional team also includes Mott MacDonald, Planit-IE, SKM and Jacobs.
At present, the Anfield Road grandstand houses around 9,000 spectators, having had a top tier added in the 1990s. The proposed project involves the partial demolition of the section of Anfield that has received the least attention in recent years.
As well as 7,000 additional seats in a tiered stand, taking matchday capacity to around 61,000, the stand would include three levels at the rear, with the top level housing hospitality, offices at the middle level and facilities including a family fan zone at the main lower level.
The footprint of the stand would extend towards Stanley Park across the Anfield Road highway, which would be re-routed. At 36.5 metres high, the stand would be slightly lower than the colossal main stand expansion introduced in 2016. A new public square is proposed at the northeastern corner.
While the Anfield Road highway is proposed to be in the club’s ownership and management, the application confirms that it would be fully available for public vehicle use outside of match and event days, but only open to pedestrians and cyclists on those latter occasions.
Fenway Sports Group, the club’s American owner, has long prioritised the expansion and improvement of Anfield, which despite expanding to a capacity of 54,000 in 2016 with the main stand project, still lags behind most of Europe’s elite clubs.
The club had secured consent in 2014 to add 4,500 seats to Anfield Road as part of the main stand project, but allowed the permission to lapse in order to advance this larger scheme.
The consent for additional team sports and events such as concerts and major boxing nights has also been debated previously – the current bid having been reduced from an initial target of up to 12 events per year. Any events are likely to take place in the six weeks from mid-May to July, post-season but before pitch preparation for the following campaign.
Mindful of the impact on residents who bear the arrival of football fans en masse up to 30 times a year – and having received criticism for the way the club under different ownerships built up its property holdings in the area – LFC has in recent years launched a Respect Our Neighbours campaign and appointed a resident liaison manager, in 2019. A community fund from summer concerts is to be match-funded by LFC.
Although three councillors have written in support of the project, two oppose it, including one who backed the objection of community group Friends of Stanley Park’s contention that the park should not be impinged upon. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England also “objects strongly to this proposal”.
Stanley Park was regraded to grade two-listed status in 2010 following a public-private package of improvements, with further restoration works following as part of LFC’s Section 106 agreement for the main stand project.
The club has also worked with housing partners on the Project Anfield regeneration venture since 2012, with around 580 houses so far being delivered, out of a 1,000-home target.
Council heritage officers concluded that “although the prominence of the new stand would cause some harm to the setting of heritage assets, this would be at the lower end of ‘less than substantial harm’ and not substantially greater than the existing stadium”. The “significant” economic benefits to the area should outweigh these concerns, they said.
Also set for approval at committee is a proposal from a vehicle called Anfield Living to convert two buildings on Oakfield, a short distance from the stadium, into a 27-bedroom hotel. Greyside Planning and Studio Attis are planner and architect respectively for a scheme that includes four basement guest rooms, five at ground floor and nine on each of the two upper floors.