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Date set for Everton stadium plans public inquiry

The date for the public inquiry into a proposed new stadium for Everton Football Club in Kirkby, just outside Liverpool, has been set for November.

The £400 million project, which was called in by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears two weeks ago, will now hit the courts earlier than expected.

Everton officials had feared that delays might kill off the Barr Construction-designed stadium because the complex funding package, which includes a deal with supermarket giant Tesco, could be hit by the economic downturn.

Leader of Knowsley Council Ron Round said: 'The council has formally accepted the date and we’re pleased the inquiry will be heard so swiftly. The people of Kirkby deserve a final decision on the regeneration of their town, and holding the inquiry before the end of the year will bring clarity on the future of this development.'

Everton's proposed 55,000-seat stadium will come as part of a wider regeneration of Kirkby town centre, funded on the whole by Tesco. The development has come under strong criticism from local campaign groups such as First for Kirkby and football fan group Keep Everton in Our City.

The public inquiry is expected to be completed before Christmas with a decision in mid-2009.

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