Everton Football Club's plan for a £125 million stadium on the banks of the Mersey is almost certain to get the green light from site owner English Partnerships, the AJ has been told.
Full planning permission is to be sought from Liverpool City Council in January 2002, according to architect HOK Sport, which believes construction work will start the following summer.
Houston Securities' 55,000-seat scheme with a retractable roof at Kings Waterfront is scheduled for completion in 2005. The 14.5ha development will also boast a 150-bed hotel, nightclub, health spa, multiplex cinema, 400 homes and a family entertainment centre.
Although English Partnerships is considering a rival bid by the Ician Consortium for a 23,000m 2conference and sports centre and landmark tower, it is understood the government's regeneration body is certain to back Everton's scheme following endorsement last week by urban regeneration company Liverpool Vision.
'But fine tuning and further thought are still required on this project, ' said Liverpool Vision project officer Alistair Macdonald.
A 'due diligence' study in key areas such as economic impact, sustainability, transport and access remains a potential stumbling block and is unlikely to be finalised before the EP board makes its announcement on July 2.
'Winning approval is only the first step in the design process of this mammoth project, ' said HOK Sport director Derek Wilson. 'Planning permission could take six months.'