English Premier League football club Everton has confirmed Walton Hall Park as the site for its proposed new stadium following an agreement with Liverpool City Council.
Goodison Park has been Everton’s home since 1892 but the club has long sought the possibility of building a modern facility, with controversial plans to move the team out of Liverpool to Kirby rejected by the UK government in 2006.
Under the Walton Hall Park agreement, Everton and Liverpool City Council will collaborate with a host of public, private and voluntary sector partners. These include Liverpool Mutual Homes, which will build new homes as part of an overall regeneration scheme that is set to provide new community facilities and secure more than 1,000 new and sustainable jobs in the area.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said: “On my journey to our home games, as I pass Walton Hall Park, I inevitably think that I am only a minute away from our beloved Goodison…for several years now, I've also thought, if only it was available for our new stadium, it ticks all the boxes.
“An opportunity to explore the possibility of securing the new home we've looked for, for so long, is hugely exciting to me, but to do that in a way that supports, transforms and sustains our local communities, in our Everton heartland, is such a wonderful, added bonus. It would fill me with great pride. It could be something very special for our city, the residents of North Liverpool and all Evertonians – a new home that goes beyond football and does what Everton does better than anyone else.
“Of course, there's an enormous amount of work to do – that again, involves fixing a huge financial jigsaw – but we are certain it's an opportunity we should pursue with great commitment, endeavour and ambition.”
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson added: “We know that this is an area of the city that requires substantial investment and this project could bring this in a unique form. Everton's investment into this area would be the catalyst for a development which could make a real difference. We know from other regeneration schemes that opportunities like this can lead to significant economic and social benefits. This scheme would generate significant new job opportunities and also address important social needs such as health and education.”
Stadium development has been a hot topic on Merseyside since the turn of the century. Liverpool this week received approval to increase the capacity of its Anfield home by 8,500 seats to 54,000, with the possibility of further development to 58,800.
In 2000, Liverpool announced plans to build a new ground at Stanley Park – the famous area that separates Anfield and Goodison Park. Those proposals undertook a number of forms, including the prospect of a ground-sharing agreement with Everton, before being abandoned in 2007 due to prohibitive costs, switching the focus back towards redeveloping Anfield.
Everton said a formal planning application for the Walton Hall Park site could be lodged in the next 12 months, following a series of community and supporter engagement events. Financing for the scheme will be led by the club, with support from a number of partners.