Everton’s plans to build a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock have moved a step closer with the news that the project has been recommended for approval in a report published by Liverpool City Council.
Liverpool City Council’s planning committee is due to meet next Tuesday (February 23) to decide whether to approve the Toffees’ plans for the 52,888 capacity stadium. The committee will also consider the club’s plans for a legacy project on the Goodison Park site.
The Council released a detailed 200-page report into the project on Monday. In it, the planning officer recommended the plans be approved by the committee next week.
That means the project is almost certain to be given the green light, though it will be referred to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, for review.
This process usually takes 21 days, though it is expected to take a little longer given the impact the Covid pandemic is having on Government time.
This is NOT the same as being ‘called in’, a project of this size is always referred to central government and should not be something to be concerned about.
In a letter to Everton fans, chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale said:
“Today (Monday, 15 February) we received confirmation that the Liverpool City Council hearing to decide on our planning application for the stadium - and our plans for a legacy project on the site of Goodison Park - will take place next week (Tuesday, 23 February).
“The report by the City Council’s Planning Officer, which will be reviewed at the meeting next week, has also been published today.
“I am pleased to let you know that the Planning Officer, following a very thorough review of our application, is recommending that the Committee approves our plans.
“Our stadium director Colin Chong and I will be presenting the club’s case at the meeting next week to underline how important this stadium is - not only to our football club but also to our city, our region and our country at such an unprecedented time in our history.”
There is also good news about funding.
A report by Liverpool Business News claims that a “financial backer for the scheme has been lined up” and Everton are “confident funds will be released” when the stadium is given go-ahead.
That means the club will not be using the plan initially proposed by Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, which would have seen the club borrow money from the council - a plan which bizarrely enraged some Liverpool fans.
The 12-stage construction process is expected to take around 150 weeks, with the Toffees hoping to be in the stadium in time for the start of the 2024-25 season.
To put that in perspective, that would mean there are only 65 Premier League games left to be played at Goodison Park.
Once full approval is granted, the club hope to begin building in early spring.
For the conspiracy theorists among you, this news was not deliberately released to distract from last night’s result against Fulham.
A number of reporters who were briefed on the project, including Alan Myers, confirmed that the announcement was planned well in advance.
The announcement on BMD was arranged over a week ago, nothing to do with last nights result— Alan Myers (@ALANMYERSMEDIA) February 15, 2021
UNESCO, Heritage England and Victorian Society have objected to the plans, citing heritage concerns, particularly over the filling-in of the dock.
However, Heritage England and Victorian Society concede that the project could go ahead if the decision-makers feel the benefits of the project outweigh any potential damage.
The project has been estimated to provide 15,000 jobs and boost the economy by more than £1 billion. With the government beginning to plan for life post-Covid, it would surely take a lot for them to turn down such an enterprise given the economy is currently on its knees.
After years of disappointment and failed ground moves it is understandable that Evertonians remain sceptical. But the club’s meticulous preparation work, including extensive public consultation, looks set to bear fruit, with that infamous spade in the ground potentially just a matter of weeks away.