Reds resubmit stadium plans to council

It was revealed this morning that Liverpool FC have resubmitted their plans for the new stadium. Liverpool were first granted planning permission in July 2004. but in the intervening time planning guidelines have changed. As a result the club have asked for the plans to be looked at again to ensure there is nothing in the new rules that causes problems with the original plans.

Liverpool need a new stadium as a way of increasing revenues from each match, the new stadium would increase capacity by 15,000 seats from the current 45,000. Rumours last month said that the North West Development Agency (NWDA) would remove their offer of funding if a March 31st deadline wasn’t reached. This turns out to be untrue – NWDA now say the millions of pounds’ worth of funding is still available, just as long as Liverpool can prove they have the rest of the finance in place. Objective One funding is worth around £10m to the club for the new stadium, but this will be lost if the private funding is not in place by the middle of this month.

According to Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, the agency is hopeful that the new stadium will go ahead because of the benefits it will bring, but private sector finance is essential: “The NWDA is keen to invest in the regeneration aspects of the new Anfield plan. However, alongside public sector funding from the NWDA and the European Regional Development Fund, the scheme also requires a significant private sector contribution for the new stadium to go ahead. The agency needs to be certain that this money has been secured before the NWDA can formally approve funding and we look forward to hearing more from the football club on their progress in securing this private sector funding.”

Mr Broomhead says that that yet more analysis will be required before
the NWDA can say how much funding they will provide: “We have a
responsibility to ensure that public money is spent on projects that
produce long-term economic, social and regeneration benefits and,
therefore, any money provided would be earmarked for regeneration
projects that benefit the local economy and communities of Anfield and
Breckfield. The amount provided will be based on independent economic
analysis of the project.”

The infamous rise in steel costs means that the original quote – five
years ago – of a cost of £80m to build the stadium is now way short of
the new costs. It has in fact doubled to £160m now. According to the
Daily Post, the increased capacity will not actually be allowed to be
utilised by Liverpool until a new transport plan has been put into
place to deal with the increase in numbers. This is a new stipulation
leaked to the newspaper that just adds yet another complication to the
club’s plans. Liverpool needed to increase their capacity to 60,000 to
compete with Manchester United and other clubs who had room to expand
existing stadia. For Liverpool to still be restricted to 45,000 when
Manchester United will by then have a capacity of 76,000 makes a good
case for Liverpool to reconsider where they should move to.

A Liverpool spokesman said last night that the new rules haven’t
stopped them in their quest for the new ground: “We remain confident
and are very much committed to making sure the new stadium goes ahead.”
According to the newspaper, Liverpool FC and the city council have
agreed a formal contract that would ensure new roads and new parking
would be put in place around the new stadium if it went ahead. Various
local recreation facilities need to be replaced too, or at least plan
for their replacements put in place, before the city council will allow
building work to commence.

There is no doubt that this project will make a huge difference to the
neighbourhood around the current stadium, but not everyone thinks that
it’s for the better. Buildings in Anfield Road will be demolished to
make way for the new ground, but more controversial is the club’s wish
to move a bandstand to a new location within Stanley Park. Somebody
called Joe Kenny is chairman of Anfield Residents Action Committee. He
said that his group will be fighting Liverpool every step of the way to
ensure the local area remains unchanged: “We will be objecting to the
plans again at the planning committee and raising a number of new
issues. If that fails, then we will take it to the next level, which
means taking out an injunction against the council. Our lawyers tell us
the council has acted against the local and national planning

The council confirmed that the Reds had resubmitted the plans, a
spokesman saying: “Liverpool Football Club has resubmitted its planning
application for a new stadium to ensure it meets all the changes in
planning law over the last two years.”