Liverpool hope to begin work on their £60million Anfield Road redevelopment by the end of the year, with completion scheduled for the summer of 2022.
The second stage of public consultation, reflecting small changes to the original proposals – the most significant being the rerouting of the road rather than permanent closure – began on Wednesday.
If everything goes to schedule planning permission will be submitted this spring, with work due to commence in the latter months of the year. The impressive redevelopment would then elevate the iconic stadium to the third biggest in the Premier League.
‘Our plan is to go into a planning process in March through April and expect a planning determination to come in late summer,’ Chief Operating Officer Andy Hughes told AP.
‘Assuming that goes to plan we would be able to commence the build towards the end of this year and take us through to completion in the summer of 2022.
‘There are lot of things that can happen on that journey and even a small change on the planning application could delay us.’
More than 800 responses were received from the first public consultation, with 93 per cent in support of the plans, although opposition to the closure of Anfield Road forced a rethink which the club have now accommodated.
‘As expected to some degree there was some negative feedback around the road closure, it is obviously an issue for some of the local residents,’ added Hughes.
‘We have completed quite a lot of the design work and internals in the building but we’ve had a long, hard look at space requirements and we have managed to come to a solution where we have shrunk down the ground floor of the building a small amount just enough to be able to divert the road around the back of the Anfield Road stand without going into Stanley Park.
Liverpool plan to fund the build themselves through existing finance options, as opposed to the Main Stand redevelopment which received a £110million loan from owners Fenway Sports Group.
However, the proposed rebuild of the Anfield Road stand, which will add 5,200 general admission seats and 1,800 for hospitality and take the ground’s overall capacity to around 61,000, does have some similarities with the previous redevelopment in terms of the methods used.
As the introduction of general safe-standing rail seating has not yet been passed into legislation, the issue remains a hypothetical one which the club will only consider if it is passed into law, carefully considering the views of families of Hillsborough victims and fans.
The plan is to keep the stand open for the entirety of the project to avoid any loss of matchday revenue.
‘It was very complicated for the Main Stand, we built around the back and over the top and kept match days running pretty much as they were and we are pretty confident we can follow the same process for the Anfield Road expansion,’ said Hughes.
‘We are looking at minimal seat loss on matchdays, hopefully virtually nothing.’
Liverpool have challenged Chelsea after receiving less than the standard 15 per cent ticket allocation for their FA Cup fifth-round tie next month.
The club will will receive 658 tickets fewer than expected, however Chelsea, citing safety advisory group advice, say the decision is final.