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Liverpool City Council has earmarked the club’s proposed 53,000-capacity stadium for approval, despite concerns from conservation groups about the harm the project could cause to the listed Bramley-Moore Dock.

The city council will meet on 23 February to discuss the application and, if the authority decides to approve the plans, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will have 21 days to review the application.

If both parties give the £500m project the green light, the main contractor Laing O’Rourke could start construction as early as spring.

In a 200-page report to the council’s planning committee, officers acknowledged that the project, within Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters development, would cause “varying degrees of harm to heritage assets and would thereby contravene heritage policies of the development plan”.

However, officers also said the project would have “significant public benefits in terms of the transformational regeneration benefits the stadium would bring to North Liverpool, the city and the wider region”.

In a statement to supporters ahead of next week’s meeting, Everton FC chief executive Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale said: “Our stadium director Colin Chong and I will be presenting the club’s case at the meeting next week to underline how important this stadium is, not only to our football club but also to our city, our region, and our country at such an unprecedented time in our history.”

Plans for the stadium, designed by US architect Dan Meis, were first submitted in December 2019.

However, last September, Everton lodged tweaked proposals, which included reducing the overall height of the stadium, amid concerns from conservation bodies about the impact the development would have on the dock, which is within Liverpool’s Unesco World Heritage site.

Historic England called for the plans to be refused by the council due to the “substantial harm” it believes would be caused to the conservation area by infilling the listed dock.

The topic of development in and around Liverpool’s docklands, which fall within the World Heritage zone, causes much debate between those who believe Liverpool’s Unesco status is good for the city and those who think it holds back its growth.

The objections to the project, which is viewed by many as critical to the growth of the city as a whole, sparked anger among the latter group.

Speaking at the time, Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “Historic England’s reading of the requirements of the World Heritage Status, which has already served its purpose in establishing [Liverpool’s] visitor brand, shows that the time may have come when the disadvantages [of the status] for the city outweigh any residual benefits it brings.”

Everton, working alongside consultancies CBRE and Simetrica, estimate that the stadium project could deliver at least a £1.3bn boost to the economy, create more than 15,000 jobs and attract 1.4m visitors to Liverpool.

Pattern Design is the sole architect for the project going forward after Meis Architects, which drew up concept designs, was dropped from the project team last summer.

Planit-IE is the landscape architect for the project and CBRE is the planning consultant.

Source: Liverpool City Council & Everton Football Club