Can someone copy and paste the article for the cheapskates?
A lot has changed since Everton submitted the planning application for a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock at the end of 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen society as we know it — including live sport and businesses — grind more or less to a halt, so it is not an easy climate in which to set about building a new stadium. But the expectation is that the development will continue apace, as a symbol of hope for club and city alike at a time of difficulty.
Although roughly 30 per cent of Liverpool City Council staff are believed to currently be off work (with others having to do their jobs remotely), those high up at local authority level do not envisage any complications to the process.
“We don’t expect it to be delayed — we still hope to meet the target for that,” Liverpool’s mayor Joe Anderson tells The Athletic. “We have to get on with the developments and creating growth in the city.”
Liverpool City Council’s planning committee are still meeting regularly via Skype to discuss the city’s latest regeneration schemes and will do so over the Bramley-Moore Dock proposal this summer if the situation does not change before then.
The Athletic also understands that preferred contractor Laing O’Rourke — one of the country’s biggest construction firms — still anticipate being ready to start in September if the development gets the go-ahead.
The Bramley-Moore site is a reminder of the city’s maritime past as well as a sign of its vast future potential. It is located in the city’s Kirkdale ward, an area suffering from severe deprivation. The semi-derelict dock was once at the fulcrum of Liverpool’s trade with the rest of the world.
“Bramley-Moore is situated in a dockland that has been almost derelict for 30 years,” says Anderson. “There has been very little activity going on there. The bottom line is that part of the city, which has been deprived of opportunities for so long, has now got a chance to develop.”
Economically speaking, Everton’s proposed new stadium will be a game-changer for a community that has seen hard times.
In her maiden speech as the new MP for Liverpool Riverside (the parliamentary constituency in which Bramley-Moore is situated) earlier this month, Kim Johnson outlined both Liverpool’s reliance on the tourism industry and the challenges it faces in a post-coronavirus landscape.
“Liverpool is the seventh-most visited city in the UK, with tourists bringing £3.6 billion of revenue to the city every year,” Johnson said. “Our tourism industry currently employs about 50,000 people. However, despite all of this, the city has the highest unemployment rate of any British city when hidden unemployment is taken into account.
“The city has been ravaged by 10 years of draconian austerity measures. We have had 64 per cent of our budget ‘stolen’ from us, equating to a loss of £450 million, with more people now reliant on foodbanks, greater levels of in-work poverty and children going hungry during school holidays.”
Heavily reliant on tourism and with big events such as the annual Grand National horse race cancelled, tough times are ahead for the city and its inhabitants.
The effects of the virus are already being felt economically. Leisure centres and car parks — two major earners for the local council — have been closed as part of a UK-wide lockdown, with the loss of revenue understood to be around £1 million per week. For a city still feeling the impact of austerity measures, such a sum is a significant worry.
In part, it is why extra stock is being placed in schemes such as the one at Bramley-Moore. Some figures are already seeing the Everton stadium development as a much-needed catalyst for growth and a vital part of the city’s response to COVID-19.
“Already, we have been hit hard and are clearly under the cosh,” Anderson adds. “Regeneration schemes like Bramley-Moore Dock are crucial to getting back on the front foot as soon as possible. Without them, the city would be up the creek without a paddle, really. We’d struggle to survive.
“All of them are game-changers in revenue terms. When the whole scheme develops out, we’re talking in the region of £20 million that we’re likely to receive (from business rates and in council tax from properties, plus other areas such as car-park income).
“This is absolutely essential for the city. It will create thousands of jobs in that locality, connect the whole waterfront and bring in substantial revenue for the city. They are prizes that are more than welcome.”
According to forecasts, the project looks set to deliver a £1 billion boost to the local economy during and post-contruction, create up to 15,000 jobs and attract 1.4 million visitors to the city each year. More than that, though, it is also a small ray of light at the end of a tunnel for people experiencing tough times.
For both a city and its inhabitants, Bramley-Moore is more necessary than ever before.
(Picture: Everton Football Club)