Everton 'can plan for stadium move', Liverpool City Council says
Everton can move forward with a plan to build a new stadium in a Liverpool park, the city's council has said.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said the stadium plan for Walton Hall Park would be a "catalyst" to spark regeneration in the nearby area.
A council spokesman said it and the club would create "a new, vibrant and sustainable neighbourhood".
Club chairman Bill Kenwright said the chance to build "a minute away from our beloved Goodison" was too good to miss.
The council spokesman said the decision to develop the park followed "an exhaustive search for suitable sites within the city".
He said no timetable for the building of the stadium was in place, but that after consulting with the local community, fan groups and project partners, a planning application "could be made within 12 months".
Green Party campaigner Martin Dobson said while it was good to keep the stadium within the city of Liverpool "there's plenty of brownfield sites in the city that could be used".
"Those should be used instead of green open space that's available for everyone," he said.
Local residents have also spoken of their uncertainty about the plan.
'Huge financial jigsaw'
Everton's 41,000-capacity Goodison Park is one of the oldest football stadiums and has been the club's home since it opened in 1892.
The club's chief executive Robert Elstone told Everton's annual general meeting in April that any new ground would have a 50,000 capacity.
The council spokesman said while no plans had been made on how the new stadium would look, "the intention would be to retain some of the best characteristics of Goodison in any new environment".
Mr Anderson said the area around the proposed site was one that "requires substantial investment and this project could bring this in a unique form".
"This is a starting point for something which could be a real game-changer for this part of the city.
"This would generate significant job opportunities and also address important social needs such as health and education."
Mr Kenwright said that "for several years" he had thought building the new stadium at Walton Hall Park "ticks all the boxes".
"It could be something very special for our city, the residents of north Liverpool and all Evertonians.
"Of course, there's an enormous amount of work to do [which] involves fixing a huge financial jigsaw, but we are certain it's an opportunity we should pursue with great commitment, endeavour and ambition."
He said that "like all Evertonians, I love Goodison Park and have done since the day I first set foot in the Boy's Pen".
"But the prospect of developing a new stadium, and a new and vibrant community, just down the road from us, is to be grasped and encouraged."