After a rather brief session, the city council today approved the proposed Anfield Road Stand expansion. By late 2023 the stadium should thus reach 61,000 seats.
A week ago we covered the positive recommendation from the planning officer, which is usually followed by the city council’s approval. While there were concerns expressed during today’s session, the planning application for Anfield Road Stand expansion was indeed approved. The entire meeting took less than 2 hours.
What’s planned for Anfield?
The stadium’s north end, along Anfield Road, will see total capacity increase to 61,000, making Anfield the third largest stadium across Premier League.
For the stand itself changes will be massive. It’s not just the additional 7,000 seats built behind current sections, the floor space will grow many times. To show you the difference in scale, we’ve cut these sections out of the planning documents. Here’s what will change between today and 2023.
Even the significant growth northward will not make the stadium encroach on Stanley Park, at least not the building itself. New bike lanes and pedestrian paths will reach the park’s grounds. The outside broadcast area will also be enlarged, to meet UEFA requirements.
While the expansion wasn’t able to begin before today’s decision, accumulation of heavy machinery and equipment behind the Anfield Road Stand has been ongoing for over a week. Anfield Road itself is closed off and will be rerouted to make way for the new construction site. Initially, the club wanted it disconnected, with two dead ends. However, in its final layout it will allow traffic as it does today.
Construction should also not impact matchday operations, including the fact that nearly all seats at Anfield Road Stand will remain in constant use. Only a fraction of the upper tier could become unavailable at later stages of the development.
Estimated to cost some £60 million (€70m or $85m today), this phase should take 2 years to complete and be delivered before the 2023/24 season.
What were the council members’ reservations?
The biggest issues circled around traffic/transportation, green goals set for the project and encroachment on Stanley Park. The latter case is connected to loss some 27 trees. However, LFC have already agreed to plan 70 new trees in selected areas to offset the change.
As for green goals, the Reds have little to show for their plans, at least now. Not even electric vehicle charging stations, which are a typical example of ‘green PR’ these days. However, introducing such features is a microscopic effort compared to the entire project. Also, chief operating officer Andy Hughes assured the council that the club will announce its green commitments soon, which is expected to include photovoltaics.
On the issue of transport it was analysed whether a nearby cargo line could be transformed into a passenger route, however its capacity would be limited and the cost... immense. That’s why in the foreseeable future buses should remain the main public transport option, with regular lines aided by shuttles from park and ride areas.
Author: Michał Karaś