The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, set up to drive economic growth in the North of England, has criticised the conservation bodies calling for the refusal of Everton FC’s 52,000-capacity stadium plan, and declared Liverpool’s World Heritage status as having “served its purpose”.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “Unnecessarily delaying a £1bn mega-project such as this would be a huge mistake.
“Historic England’s reading of the requirements of the World Heritage Status, which has already served its purpose in establishing [Liverpool’s] visitor brand, shows that the time may have come when the disadvantages [of the status] for the city outweigh any residual benefits it brings.”
Conservation groups Historic England and the Victorian Society have both objected to Everton’s proposals for a £500m stadium at the grade two-listed Bramley-Moore Dock on the city’s waterfront on the grounds that infilling the disused dock would be harmful to assets of historical value.
The organisations have asked for the project to either be refused by Liverpool City Council or called in by the Secretary of State, which would scupper the club’s aim to start construction work on site early next year.
Everton FC has been working alongside various conservation groups to draw up the proposals and last week submitted an amended planning application for the project in order to address some concerns raised by objectors.
In his statement, Murison added: “In reality, the power of such a scheme can prove transformative in unlocking the true economic potential of Liverpool and the North in both the short- and long-term.
“Projects like this represent a critical example of the role that forward-thinking organisations such as Everton and their wider partners can play in investing in local communities and ‘building back better’ – closing the North/South divide one step at a time.”
The topic of development in and around Liverpool’s docklands, which fall within the World Heritage zone, causes much debate between those who believe Liverpool’s Unesco status is good for the city and those who think it holds back its growth.
Last week, Liverpool City Council launched a framework aimed at guiding development within the protected zone so that the city can maintain its Unesco World Heritage status, which is being reviewed by the European heritage body, while also pushing ahead with the regeneration of the derelict docklands.