Government calls for a public inquiry into the £400m project

Everton Football Club has insisted its plans for a new £400m stadium in Kirkby are not dead despite the government’s decision to call in the project for a public inquiry.

The Department for Communities and Local Government announced the move on Wednesday, saying it was the “only appropriate decision”.

A spokesperson said: “We recognise that there have been strong views expressed about this complex proposal.

“Ministers thought long and hard about the case and decided the only appropriate decision was to call it in.”

It is thought the move could delay the planning process by more than a year but the club insists it is not the end of the project.

The scheme is a joint venture between Everton FC and Tesco, includes a stadium, Tesco store, hotel and shopping space

It said: “It is important to stress that this decision does not spell the end of the Destination Kirkby project. But it will, self-evidently, precipitate a period of reflection, assessment and re-evaluation.”

The proposed development, a joint venture between Everton FC and Tesco, includes a 55,000-seat stadium, Tesco store, hotel and 50,000m² of shopping space.

Knowsley council backed the scheme in June but neighbouring Liverpool council has objected to the club leaving the city and says alternative sites are available.

The inquiry is expected to be held within the next year.