Former Deputy Prime Minister and long-term champion of regeneration in Liverpool, Michael Heseltine, has backed Everton Football Club’s proposed move to a new dockland location and described it as a ‘golden opportunity to bring lasting change to the north of the city’.
The football club is on track to submit a planning application later this year for a state-of-the-art stadium on Bramley-Moore Dock, a largely abandoned piece of dockland in the north of Liverpool which forms part of Peel Land & Property’s Liverpool Waters site. The Club plans to redevelop its existing Goodison Park home to create new community assets after the relocation, building on the award-winning work of its charitable trust, Everton in the Community.
Lord Heseltine’s comments in support of the proposed move come on the eve of the MIPIM international property convention in Cannes, France, which is being attended by Everton Chief Executive Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale and Stadium Development Director Colin Chong, where the Club will be discussing its proposals with global influencers from the property and construction sector.
Lord Heseltine said: “The involvement of a major football club like Everton as the spearhead of this development is hugely beneficial to the renewal process. This is not just for the immediate environments around the stadium facility but is of regional importance to Liverpool because of the wider economic impact.
“There’s no question that taking declining areas, or even semi-derelict areas like Liverpool’s north docks, and giving them a new lease of life, meets every test of regeneration. First of all, it reverses the decline; secondly, it uses brownfield sites as opposed to green sites; and it tends to create jobs and investment where people actually are – as opposed to people having to travel long distances. It can simply change the whole atmosphere of a place.
“All that investment combines to create an atmosphere in which other businesses want to be involved and other growth projects emerge. Everton’s plans would change the whole tone and attitude towards the local area, so would serve many purposes beyond the primary sporting purpose.
“It should be remembered that this area of north Liverpool has been in decline for many, many decades so it strikes me that this is an opportunity which the city of Liverpool cannot afford to miss.”
Research carried out by international property consultancy CBRE indicates the stadium project would lead to a £1bn boost to the local economy, the creation of 15,000 new jobs for local people (12,000 during the construction phase), and deliver an estimated additional 1.5m visitors to the city.
These benefits are in addition to the development of a series of community assets which will combine to leave a lasting legacy at Goodison Park once the playing side of the club has vacated its home of 126 years.
On Lord Heseltine’s comments, Everton’s Chief Executive, Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale, said: “Naturally it is pleasing to receive support from key national figures. To get such an endorsement from somebody who not only understands regeneration but has a deep understanding of urban regeneration in the context of our home city is all the more noteworthy and welcome.
“Lord Heseltine is a great supporter and advocate for the city and we are very pleased that he shares our vision and recognises the broad regenerative impact our proposals will have.”
The backing of Lord Heseltine comes as senior officials from the Club prepare to attend the MIPIM property conference in Cannes, France, as part of the Liverpool City Region official delegation.
Running from March 12 -15 at the Palais des Festivals on the Côte d’Azur, MIPIM is a key date in the diaries of the property development and investment sector. Everton will use the event to highlight the benefits of its proposals to an international audience and meet key partners as it gears up to reveal the latest stadium designs ahead of its second phase of The People’s Project public consultation in the summer.
Prof. Barrett-Baxendale will be discussing the Club’s proposals at an event on the Liverpool City Region stand taking place at 3pm on Tuesday March 12 as well as giving a keynote speech at the Liverpool Dinner on the same evening.
Stadium Development Director Colin Chong said: “This is the first time the Club has attended MIPIM in an official capacity in partnership with the City Region. We’re very much looking forward to impressing upon people both the virtues of our own plans and the huge opportunities for further investment and development our projects will unlock in North Liverpool.”
The Club remains on track to submit a ‘detailed’ planning application for the stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock in the second half of the year and, at the same time, an ‘outline’ planning application for the redevelopment of Goodison Park.