Former Liverpool footballers Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler have teamed up to operate the sports facilities at the club’s former training ground, allowing part of the site to be retained for community use under Torus’s plans to redevelop the area for housing.
The Fowler-Carragher Academy will take on the running of the existing sports centre, while two Olympians, gymnast Beth Tweddle and swimmer Steve Parry, will run activities for local children from a grassroots sports hub at the facility.
“Partnering with Torus to kick off the new chapter in Melwood’s history was a natural fit for the Fowler-Carragher Academy and our mission to give local kids and young people opportunities to aspire and succeed,” Fowler and Carragher said. Combined, Carragher and Fowler made more than 1,000 appearances for Liverpool.
The academy is to partner with a local college, offering sports-based educational courses and a professional football programme, according to the former players. “Melwood will provide the opportunity of extending our offer and creating a beacon of national excellence,” they said.
Olympic Bronze medallist Beth Tweddle added: “I know Melwood’s sporting heritage occupies a strong place in Liverpool’s heart, which is why we jumped at the chance to be involved in this project.”
When Torus released designs for the 200-home redevelopment of the West Derby site in March, it said the sports facilities would only be retained if a viable end-user could be found.
Having successfully done that, Torus is now holding talks with the Professional Footballers’ Association to explore the possibility of incorporating supported housing at Melwood for ex-footballers with dementia and other care needs.
Gordon Taylor, PFA chief executive, said: “We are pleased to support this project in principle with particular regard to looking after those of our former members in need. We hope Melwood could become a national blueprint for such supported housing projects.”
Working with architect Corstophine + Wright, the developer has worked up a scheme featuring a 100-apartment extra-care facility and around 100 houses at the 12-acre site off Deysbrook Road, as well as preserving the existing training facilities for the community.
“By working together to both honour the site’s past and reimagine its future, Melwood will become an exemplar of how a housing-led scheme can meet multiple local needs and unlock sustainable positive change for communities,” said Steve Coffey, chief executive of Torus.
A second round of public consultation on the proposals closed at the end of April and a planning application is due in the coming weeks.