Influential heritage group the Merseyside Civic Society (MCS) has announced its support for Everton Football Club’s approach to preserving the heritage of Bramley-Moore Dock within its plans for a new waterfront stadium.

Everton submitted a detailed planning application for its new home in the city’s northern docklands to Liverpool City Council on Monday 23 December.

The Club has consulted with MCS and other heritage bodies throughout the design of the proposed new stadium, to ensure its final plans respect and preserve the heritage of the area, while bringing a semi-derelict dockland site back into productive use.

The stadium proposals include a range of plans to preserve and enhance the local heritage, including preserving the listed dock walls under the proposed stadium and maintaining a water channel to ensure the visual continuity of the dock system – a key feature of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site – with the historic dock wall on the western side of the channel exposed.

If the plans are approved, the site’s Grade II Listed Hydraulic Tower would be preserved and restored to create a unique visitor attraction for fans on matchdays as well as attracting tourists on non-matchdays. A range of Bramley-Moore Dock’s historic features, including cobbles, capstones, mooring posts and old tram lines, will also be restored and be part of a heritage trail on the site.

In a statement following the submission of the planning application to Everton and Liverpool City Council, the MCS said it was ‘impressed’ with the care the Club had taken in drawing up its proposals, how those proposals meet the MCS’s own criteria for waterfront developments and the lengths Everton has gone to in consulting the local community. It also announced its support for the Club’s intention for the public realm around the stadium to be open 24-hours a day, and for surface materials, features and landmarks to be conserved and brought back into use.

MCS highlighted the how the docklands was previously known for importing and exporting goods but ‘it is now culture that is the main industry’.

The statement closes by making reference to the social history of Liverpool’s docks.

“Many of those supporters and visitors, who will bring life back to the site, will be the relatives and descendants of the seafarers and dockers, who made this into a world-famous waterfront, before the docks fell silent.”

Founded in 1938 the MCS campaigns to preserve the best of Merseyside’s existing buildings and spaces and to insist on good quality design for new developments.

Commenting on the submission of Everton’s detailed planning application, Jean Grant, MCS Council Member and former Chairperson, said: “The dock wall as an architectural feature has always divided the docks from their workforce and their community. A new stage of Liverpool’s extraordinary social and architectural history will begin when the derelict docks are opened up to the community that was their workforce and the public who will provide their income.”

Trevor Skempton, MCS Council Member and former Urban Design Advisor to Liverpool City Council, added: “The proposed stadium on the banks of the Mersey will be an important addition to the city’s skyline, in keeping with the historic development patterns. The design seems polite and respectful, rather than dramatic. It should be the catalyst that is needed for the eventual repair and conservation of the whole historic waterfront.”

Now that the plans have been submitted, the next step is for Liverpool City Council to review and process the significant and complex application, which will take time due to the scale of the submission, before starting their formal consultation period. The Club, being advised by the CBRE UK Planning & Development team, has worked closely with the Liverpool Planning Authority and Historic England to shape the application and ensure the required detail is included to enable the proposals to be appropriately considered.

MCS’ full statement reads:

Merseyside Civic Society has been consulted on the proposals for a new Stadium for Everton, within Liverpool’s World Heritage Site at Bramley-Moore Dock.

The MCS has long argued that development and conservation must both be inspirational. With that in mind, we are impressed by the care that Everton have taken in drawing up their proposals and in consulting with local communities, particularly in North Liverpool. We published a White Paper on the World Heritage site in 2018 and a further Waterfront Policy Statement in November 2019. The Stadium proposals published today accord with the principles outlined in these documents. Our main concern will be to ensure that your aspirations are maintained during the delivery process. Our support will be conditional on standards being maintained. We look forward to further details of longer-term expansion, and for indications of associated mixed-use developments coming to the area around the new stadium.

In particular, we support your intention that the public realm around the stadium, and the new waterfront pedestrian route from Garston, will be open 24-hours a day, and that surface materials, features and landmarks will be conserved and brought back into use, including the landmark Hydraulic Tower. We also note that the stadium design is reversible, in accordance with good conservation practice, with the existing dock structure preserved for the future.

We recognise that the stadium may change and expand over time, but with continuing aspirations to innovation and quality. Where goods were once exported and imported, it is now culture that is the main industry. Many of those supporters and visitors, who will bring life back to the site, will be the relatives and descendants of the seafarers and dockers, who made this into a world-famous waterfront, before the docks fell silent.

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