Everton chairman Bill Kenwright hailed the “very important step” of securing planning permission on their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Liverpool City Council’s planning committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve proposals for the 52,888-capacity ground by the side of the River Mersey.
Due to the scale of the development, the detailed application now passes to the office of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – Robert Jenrick – for consideration.
However, if there are no objections the club would look to start work this spring or early summer with a view to moving in ahead of the 2024-25 season.
“Whilst today is just one more step in our long journey, it is a very important one,” said Kenwright. “It’s been a good week for Everton and Evertonians.”
There is a 150-week build plan in place for the stadium, which is expected to cost upwards of £500million with funding coming from private loans, majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, last year’s training-ground naming deal with USM and a small amount from grants.
After a number of false starts over several years, Everton considered 52 locations to move from Goodison Park but Bramley-Moore Dock was deemed the only viable option.
The project has gained widespread public support but objections were raised by heritage body ICOMOS, acting on behalf of UNESCO, as well as the Victorian Society and Historic England – with the latter having had input on the design.
But the council’s report concluded the plans – which integrate a number of historic features – could actually deliver ‘heritage benefits’ as well as harm by “enhancing degraded on-site heritage assets, improving access to the World Heritage Site and unlocking access to the history”.
Everton believe the new stadium can play a key role in Liverpool’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with the stadium and a multi-purpose redevelopment of Goodison Park generating a £1.3billion boost to the local economy.
“I am sure you are aware of how important a new stadium will be for us – providing the state-of-the-art facilities befitting of an ambitious Premier League club – as well as the important role it can play in boosting our local economy at a time when it’s never been more needed,” chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale wrote in an email to supporters.
“The project, which will be one the most significant infrastructure projects our city has seen in many years and one of the largest single-site developments in the country at this time, will provide a £1.3bn boost to the local economy and deliver more than 15,000 jobs.
“If we achieve the final planning approval we have all worked so hard for, then we will be in a position to complete our funding arrangements and confirm our schedule for the build process at Bramley-Moore Dock.”
The club also received planning permission for their community-led legacy project at Goodison Park, which includes housing, a health centre, green spaces, retail and business facilities.
That too must go to the Secretary of State but, if there are no objections, Everton will have to begin work within three years of the club moving off the site which has been their home since 1892.