Everton chiefs are hoping to begin work on the Premier League club’s new stadium in early 2021 after unveiling amended designs in the wake of objections from heritage groups.

Colin Chong, Everton’s stadium development director, told fans in a statement that changes to designs for the 52,000-seat arena at Bramley-Moore Dock have been actioned based on concerns raised with Liverpool City Council’s planning department following a public consultation. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Historic England and the Victorian Society were among the parties that expressed objections to the development.

Changes include a new river-facing stepped plaza and the removal of the multi-storey car park at the West Stand. The solar panels originally proposed on the West Quay will now be relocated to the stadium roof, freeing up and decluttering the quay for non-matchday use and allowing for extra matchday parking.

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In line with the ICOMOS’s World Heritage Site guidance, designers have slightly reduced the overall height of the stadium, without affecting capacity.

Chong said: “We believe these enhancements create a stronger connection between the stadium and the Mersey – as well as offering the people of the city and visitors a fantastic new public space to enjoy within a World Heritage Site.”

The updated designs will be formally submitted to the council in early September, with a further formal public consultation required on the revised elements expected to last around 28 days.

Liverpool City Council may need to convene a special planning committee meeting towards the end of the year to give their determination to the updated application. The detail of this determination is likely to dictate whether the application will also need to be reviewed by central government.

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“This additional local consultation, together with some aspects of the project relating to third parties having slowed slightly due to the impact of COVID-19, means that – subject to planning approval and finalising our funding packages – it is most likely that work could commence on-site early in 2021,” Chong said.

“As there are currently so many factors over which we do not have direct control, it would be unwise to commit to a specific date when our build will commence – or when we are likely to be playing in the new stadium.

“However, we have every confidence in our project plan and the team we have assembled to deliver it. And, as I’m sure you know, everyone at the club is entirely committed to getting us into a new home at Bramley-Moore Dock as soon as we possibly can.”

According to Chong, Historic England and ICOMOS believe Everton’s proposals should be reviewed by central government due to their concerns over the impact the club’s plans to infill the dock could have on what is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Conservation Area.

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While describing the area as “semi-derelict”, Chong said the club has sought to handle objections over the development of the site by maintaining the visual interconnectivity to neighbouring docks, preserve many of the site’s original features and protect the dock walls under the stadium.

Chong added: “Our plans mean we will be opening up a site for civic use that has been semi-derelict and inaccessible to the public for many years, while also preserving and enhancing some of Bramley-Moore Dock’s key features, such as the Grade II listed hydraulic tower.”

Everton, who have played at Goodison Park since 1892, hope to relocate to the new venue by 2023. The club has named Laing O’Rourke as its preferred building contractor, with Pattern as the project’s technical architect. Buro Happold and Planit-IE have been retained as engineering consultants and landscape architects respectively.

Image: Everton FC