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Liverpool FC expansion plans get green light

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KSS Design Group’s proposed expansion of Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield stadium has won the backing of the city council

Subject to conditions, the approval gives the go-ahead for the club’s Main Stand to increase its capacity by up to 8,500, giving Anfield an overall capacity of 54,000.

The detailed approval from Liverpool City Council’s planning committee also includes a new home for the Hillsbrough Memorial, a two-storey podium, and new player, retail, and banking facilities.

Additionally, councillors gave outline approval-in-principle to the expansion of the club’s Anfield Road Stand, which would increase its capacity by up to 4,800.

The stadium plans form part of a wider £260m regeneration programme for the area, including new homes, new public spaces, businesses facilities and a 100-room hotel.

Club chief executive officer Ian Ayre said the proposals had received ‘very positive support’ during a public consultation earlier this year.

But he added: ‘While we are delighted about the progress made, there are still some steps that we need to navigate through in order to give us the certainty that we need to proceed with our expansion plans.’

Brian Cronin, chief executive of social landlord Your Housing Group, said the stadium redevelopment was ‘an integral part’ of the overall vision for the regeneration of the area.

Liverpool FC said construction work on the Main Stand would begin early next year for completion in time for the 2016-17 season. Matches will continue to be played at Anfield during that time.

Previous story (AJ: 24.04.2014)

Liverpool FC unveils Anfield Stadium expansion plans

Liverpool Football Club has revealed proposals by KSS Architects to add 13,000 seats to its existing home.

Under the plans, which are estimated to cost around £150 million, both the Main and Anfield Road Stands will be expanded to raise the stadium’s capacity from 45,500 to 58,800.

The first stage of the redevelopment will see an additional 8,500 seats added to the Main Stand, which will include the relocated Hillsborough Memorial, with a further 4,800 seat expansion planned for the Anfield Road Stand.

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KSS Architects’ design is the latest in a long line of schemes to expand capacity at Liverpool FC, including plans by AFL for a new 60,000-seat stadium which won planning back in July 2004.

Both AFL’s and then Texas-based practice HKS’s redesigned plan for a stadium on a controversial site in Stanley Park were abandoned before the decision was made to redevelop Anfield in 2012.

To make way for the new scheme the neighbouring Lothair Road and half of Alroy Road will be demolished.

Construction work on the proposed Main Stand is planned to start early next year be complete in time for the 2016-17 season.

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Ian Ayre, Liverpool FC managing director, said: ‘In order to move forward with our expansion plans we need to have certainty that we can navigate the complex planning process and secure the support of the community, local home owners, businesses and other key stakeholders.

‘We started this journey just over 18 months ago and a lot of work has already been done, there is still an incredible amount to do, but good progress has been made so far and we are proud to be able to unveil our plans.’

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Jonathan Brown, director of Liverpool based planning consultancy ShareTheCity.org: ‘Expanding each stand incrementally always served the club well over a century of success - most recently the Centenary Stand was built over the old Kemlyn Road in 1992, the Kop was renewed in 1994 and an extra tier added to Anfield Road in 1998. It also kept the worst impacts on neighbouring houses within a limited radius.

‘That approach was torn up when the council offered the club 40 per cent of Stanley Park for a new stadium, and then used John Prescott’s Pathfinder money to buy up and empty out thousands of homes round Anfield, for a mix of new houses and commercial development.

‘It was a grand vision but turned out to be too expensive and disruptive to deliver. The club lost a decade of physical development, and the last council leader had to admit he’d left the area as a war zone while demolition continued.

‘At least managaing director Ian Ayre showed the good grace to apologise to the people of Anfield in 2012, and with this announcement it feels like the club, city and community can really begin to rebuild.

‘KSS have come up with a muscular, imposing new main stand which references Liverpool’s red brick vernacular. The giant pitchside cantilevers have a hint of the dockland gantry cranes that will soon appear in the new Panamax port now under construction.

‘I think it’s going to be very well received by the club’s supporters.’

Paul Monaghan, partner AHMM Architects: ‘If we win the league after 25 years I don’t really care what it looks like.’

Trevor Skempton, Liverpool-based architect: ‘Liverpool have, in my opinion, made the correct strategic decision in going for a phased expansion of their existing stadium.

‘An earlier option, explored as one of several lines of enquiry by myself and others, to look at a shared stadium proved to be unworkable for business reasons. It would have diluted one of the club’s unique selling points, as well as going against clearly-expressed supporter preferences. The subsequent ‘Football Quarter’ model, in which both clubs expand their respective stadia whilst developing a joint transport, tourist and ‘fan-zone’ infrastructure around Stanley Park, had been jointly promoted by supporters’ groups Spirit of Shankly and KEIOC (Keeping Everton In Our City).

‘As for the architectural quality of the Reds stadium depicted in today’s images, I’m underwhelmed. However [being an Everton fan] they’re not designed to impress me anyway.

‘A more serious problem is the immediate urban context. It’s all much too open. Demolition and suburbanisation are still the order of the day, as a leftover from discredited ‘Housing Market Renewal Initiative’. I just hope that this wretched example of Liverpool’s ‘managed decline’, pursued under successive governments, doesn’t spread to the tight network of streets in Walton on the other side of Stanley Park.’

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