Anfield redevelopment on track
Liverpool’s city mayor Joe Anderson is "confident" of avoiding a two-year legal fight that threatens to hold up the redevelopment of Anfield.
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Council leaders are considering compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to buy and demolish a handful of remaining nearby houses that are blocking plans to expand Liverpool’s home ground.
Liverpool City Council will decide next Friday whether to approve the orders in principle -- in order to allow rebuilding work at Anfield to go ahead as part of a 260 million pound regeneration of the local area.
The regeneration project requires the demolition of around 700 houses in total, and the council, the football club and social housing agency Your Housing have acquired most of those properties -- but a handful remain outside their control.
A CPO is considered a last resort to force the regeneration project through, and buying the remaining houses in this way could take up to 18 months. Liverpool would then face a further wait in order to go through the process of applying for planning permission to expand the Main Stand and Anfield Road End.
City mayor Anderson told the Liverpool Echo: "We have had overwhelming support from local residents and businesses for our plans and there is unarguable public interest in driving these proposals forward.
"The people of Anfield have been let down too often in the past. We will not let them down again.
"We remain confident that we will be able to acquire properties without having to resort to CPOs but want to get agreement for them should they be required. The legal justification for CPOs, should they be needed, is unequivocal."
Expansion of Anfield has long been a problem for Liverpool, whose home is hemmed in by residential streets.
In the 1980s, plans to demolish houses on neighbouring Kemlyn Road in order to build what is now the Centenary Stand were held up by two sisters, Joan and Nora Mason, who refused to leave the one remaining occupied house on the street.
A settlement was not agreed until November 1990, with the stand finally built and opened in 1992.
The club first went public with plans to extend the Main Stand and Anfield Road End in 1999, but plans were scrapped early in the new millennium as they focused instead on proposals for a new home in Stanley Park.
But remaining at Anfield became more likely when Boston-based Fenway Sports Group bought the club in 2010, with managing director Ian Ayre confirming in October last year that Liverpool would be staying put.
When the project was first made public in the late 1990s, a total of 699 properties were earmarked for demolition. Of those, 279 have been demolished or are in the demolition process at the moment.
A further 346 have been purchased, or an agreement for their sale has been agreed. Property holders who own the remaining 74 homes are in talks with the development consortium, headed by the council.
A Liverpool City Council spokesperson told the Liverpool Echo that compulsory purchase orders for around 30 houses was considered "the very worst case scenario."
Robert Porter, of Your Housing, added: "We have to acquire land in a manner which is fair to property owners and which enables the schemes to progress.
"We have consulted at length with residents and businesses and are confident we have the support of the community to deliver these improvements."