£500m stadium represents key private sector investment for regeneration of Anfield area
Housing minister Grant Shapps has called for the owners of Liverpool Football Club to make a decision “urgently” on the £500m redevelopment of the new stadium.
A decision is expected in the next few weeks on whether plans for a new stadium at Stanley Park, on which the regeneration of much of the Anfield area depends, will go ahead.
The plans have been on hold since the previous owners of the club ran into financial difficulties in 2009. A spokesman for the club said today that the new owner, John W Henry, was “reviewing the situation” and would make an announcement in due course.
Shapps told the communities select committee: “There’s a really urgent decision to be made there, and in fact if that decision’s not made, it holds back regeneration. But it’s not about has the government got hundreds of millions of pounds to put in to this.”
Plans for the 55,000-seater stadium, designed by HKS, were announced in 2002, with the wider regeneration to include new homes, primary schools, a health centre and a £37m academy school, creating nearly 800 jobs.
Shapps also criticised the leader of Liverpool council, Labour councillor Joe Anderson, for failing to understand the government’s new approach to regeneration. The government has cut funding for programmes - such as housing regeneration - but given local authorities more power to take decisions in their areas.
Shapps said: “The [council] leader couldn’t understand what I was talking about at all, and simply said when’s the next cheque coming.”
A spokesperson for the council said it was in talks with Liverpool FC over the regeneration and expected a decision “imminently.”
The comments came as Shapps defended the government’s new regeneration strategy, which has replaced Labour’s £1.2bn Housing Market Renewal programme for derelict homes with a £30m transition fund.
Committee member Heidi Alexander accused Shapps of having a regeneration strategy based on “tables cut and pasted from information on other departments’ websites.”