Historic England has called on the Government to reject Everton’s plans for their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, despite the Premier League club amending the project to assuage fears of the impact on the historic location.
The body said it has liaised extensively with Everton officials for some time, but fears the development at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Liverpool – which dates back to the 1840s – would “harm” what it considers an “outstanding example of dock design and cargo-handling which influenced ports around the globe”.
While Historic England – a public body created to protect England’s historic places – said it appreciated the steps taken by Everton to revise its plans for the 52,000-capacity arena in recent months, it is the club’s plans to infill the dock at the Grade II-listed structure that cause the greatest concern.
“There is a strong desire to build a new stadium that is sensitive to its surroundings and context,” Historic England said in a statement. “This is highlighted by the positive enhancements made to the design of the stadium over the summer.
“However, we consider that the proposal to infill the dock would fundamentally change its historic character as a water-filled basin which so clearly tells the story of the docks and has contributed to its status as a World Heritage Site. The loss of the water would result in substantial harm to the significance of the Grade II listed Bramley-Moore Dock and cause harm to the World Heritage Site.
“The dock has planning permission for residential development so there are potential alternative solutions that could retain the water-filled dock whilst developing the currently derelict area. We do not believe that the city faces a stark choice between dereliction or football stadium.”
Historic England will now lobby Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick to call a halt to the development.
It said: “Due to the impact of the proposals on a World Heritage Site, which has the highest level of heritage protection and is internationally significant, we regrettably think that this application should be determined by the Secretary of State and will ask for it to be called in for his determination.
“We have also advised that the application should be refused, unless the decision-maker concludes that the public benefits would outweigh the damage to Bramley-Moore dock and the harm to the World Heritage Site which the proposals would cause.”
Last week, citing objections from heritage groups, Everton unveiled amended plans that 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.
Colin Chong, Everton’s stadium development director, 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.”
Image: Everton FC / Historic England