Covid-19 and the size of the planning application blamed for setback

Everton fans will have to wait until next year to find out if the club’s new £500m stadium will be approved by planners after Liverpool city council confirmed the decision has been delayed.

A decision on the Toffees’ 53,000-seat new home at Liverpool’s grade II-listed Bramley-Moore Dock was expected by the end of this year with Laing O’Rourke lined up as main contractor if given the green light.

In an update to supporters in August, the club’s stadium development director Colin Chong said the sheer size of the scheme’s planning application - one of the largest ever received by the council - meant that a special planning committee might have to be convened “towards the end of the year” to make a decision on the scheme.

West Stand Everton new

How the stadium will look if built

But now a spokesperson for the council has told Building that the meeting had been pushed back to “some time in the New Year”, adding: “With the volume of paperwork [the decision] was never going to happen this year.”

The spokesperson also blamed covid-19 for the delay due to council staff having to work from home because of pandemic restrictions in the city, which had one of the highest infection rates in Europe during October.

Chong had warned in his August update that “some aspects of the project relating to third parties [have] slowed slightly” due to the virus, but he had reassured fans that work on the stadium had been proceeding well and expected the project to start onsite in early 2021.

The delay is the latest setback to hit the scheme after original plans lodged in December 2019 prompted objections from Unesco, Historic England and the Victorian Society because of its impact on the city’s historic docks, a World Heritage Site.

Revised plans submitted in August added a new stepped plaza to the stadium’s West Stand, pushed back a facade to improve views of the River Mersey and removed a multi-storey car park.