Historic England, a public heritage body that seeks to preserve and care for “England’s historic environment” have called on the Government to scrutinise Everton’s plans to build a new stadium on Liverpool’s derelict north docks.
In a statement on their website, Historic England argue that Liverpool’s docklands, a Unesco World Heritage Site, are the “pride” the city and “key to its global significance” and they are concerned that Everton’s plans to build on the biggest of the docks in the Stanley Dock complex poses a significant threat to special character of the area.
“A new stadium for Everton Football Club is close to the hearts of its fans and football has long formed part of Liverpool’s identity,” the statement reads. “We have had extensive and productive discussions with the Club about how best to develop the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock and understand the attraction of this exceptional location.
“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.”
Liverpool’s docks have undergone years of regeneration that has transformed the city’s waterfront — from the development of the Albert Dock and the erection of the Echo Arena at the King’s Dock (to where, of course, Everton hoped to relocate back in 2004) to the Museum of Liverpool on the southern end closer to the city centre.
Meanwhile, Liverpool Waters under the auspices of Peel Holdings have long had a £5bn regeneration plan to redevelop the docks from Prince’s Dock to the wastewater treatment plant north of Bramley-Moore Dock primarily with residential buildings on the existing footprints.
Historic England’s objections appear to be based not on Everton’s plans to build on the dock site per se but on the club’s desire to fill Bramley-Moore Dock in to create the footprint for the 52,000-plus stadium.
“We acknowledge the potential benefits that a new stadium could bring to north Liverpool and we understand the challenges that the area faces,” their statement continues. “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.
“[W]e 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.
“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.”
Despite these perceived risks to the dock site and its heritage, Everton’s plans are likely to be viewed favourably by the Government whose “Build, build, build” mantra is central to its hopes of stimulating the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.
As such, a major construction project that is expected to bring thousands of jobs to Liverpool and has the potential to generate £1bn in benefits to the city could receive plenty of backing in Westminster, particularly if the Secretary of State feels that the club and the developers, Laing O’Rourke, have met the requirements of making the design sensitive to the character of the surrounding area.
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”Threat to the special character of the area”
Have any of those ladies and gentlemen had a good look at the long term decay and dereliction of that area ?
Far from detracting from a world heritage site, this investment and sympathetic development will be the unique saviour of this historical area.
It will inspire more careful and respectful investment, reinvigorate the local economy and bring new life, in every sense to the surrounding environment. The past and the future working in harmony to create a better present.
So what exactly do they want to see happen on that site?
Why dont these people realise that the once great port of Liverpool no longer survives as a dock port and so needs to redeveloped derelict land so the city can grow and prosper.
Even if the land wasnt proposed to be used for a football stadium they would dispute and modernisation of an area which is now waste land and a total eyesore.
Maybe if they dont want a football stadium there they need to put their money where there mouth is and build up the area so it can do justice to the great city of Liverpool.
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