Liverpool's new £400m stadium gets go ahead
Liverpool were today given the go-ahead to build their redesigned £400million stadium in Stanley Park.
The city council's planning committee granted permission to move the few yards from Anfield to a new home with a potential capacity of 76,000 - making it as large as Manchester United's Old Trafford.
Liverpool's new ground will initially hold 60,000 fans but further applications to add seats may be made.
The turf will be sunk 26ft into the ground allowing room for more supporters to be accommodated around the pitch.
Liverpool won permission for a 60,000-seater stadium in March 2006 but the club's new American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were unhappy with the design so planners returned to the drawing board.
The new stadium will hold 114 executive boxes - twice the number in the original design - and will regenerate neglected Stanley Park.
Liverpool say work on the new stadium can begin almost immediately and it is hoped it will be ready for use in 2010.
Construction of the new ground means the Stanley Park area will benefit from regeneration with the actual park receiving £14million-worth of funding.
As part of the planning proposal up to £10million of Government funding will be used to redevelop the old Anfield site. Plans include a new park, sports centre and hotel.
Talks are also under way with families of Hillsborough victims about moving the memorial to the disaster in 1989 in which 96 Liverpool supporters died.
The club's Anfield home, which has a capacity of 45,400, was originally built in 1884 for Merseyside rivals Everton.
Not all were in favour of the move, however, and the club's application was opposed by scores of local residents and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.
Local councillor Steve Radford told today's meeting: 'Had it been any other applicant it wouldn't have got in the room.'
Claiming it was a 'monstrous sized development' he said: 'I believe the officers of the council have acted as agents of the club, not agents of the people.'
Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry revealed building would start in the spring but that the completion date has been put back to 2011.
'We will be very proud of what we have. Whether it will be the best depends on what other clubs do in the future, but we're certainly setting our sights high,' he told the club's website.
'We want a great team and a great stadium. The message for the fans is it will give us the revenues to make sure we continue to compete on the pitch. That's the whole purpose of the exercise.
'It's not about building monuments, it's making sure we're competitive.'