I wrote in January about Everton Football Club’s planning application for a new 52,000 seat stadium at the historic Bramley Moore Dock and the similarities that can be drawn between the heritage versus regeneration debate in Liverpool and those that have recently taken place in Derby.
The application was submitted at the end of 2019 and it was hoped that a decision on the application would be made by summer 2020 but timescales are up in the air at the moment due to a certain unforeseen global event.
Nevertheless, the club has been widely praised for the way in which it conducted one of the largest public consultations ever undertaken in the UK and the club and it’s advisors have now been named as a finalist in the prestigious ‘Planning Awards 2020’ in the category of ‘Stakeholder Engagement in Planning’.
Dubbed The People’s Project, the two stage consultation generated 63,000 responses and demonstrated 96% support for the scheme. Many believe it has set a new benchmark for public engagement in the planning process and has drawn praise from experts in civic engagement.
The multi-channel consultation was carried out in two phases across 2018 and 2019 and included a permanent online presence, augmented reality app, a geo-targeted social media campaign, email and postal surveys, focus groups and an ambitious touring exhibition, including a virtual reality experience, which visited 21 locations and attracted more than 18,000 people.
Professor Michael Parkinson, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor, civic engagement, at the University of Liverpool said: “Everton’s consultation has seen them live up to their reputation as the People’s Club. The immersive technologies they used, coupled with the breadth and depth of engagement, can provide valuable lessons for organisations undertaking engagement and consultation processes.”
The response of key consultees to the planning application is unclear at present as documents have not been uploaded to the Liverpool City Council web page. However, there is expected to be overwhelming public support for the proposal and local politicians and businessmen have widely praised the scheme. Furthermore, Henri Murison, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, has said that a new Everton stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock has a vital part to play in the future of the northern economy, especially in the aftermath of coronavirus. We await news of when (and how) the council will reach a decision on the application.
Richard Pigott, Director, Planning & Design Practice Ltd