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Monday, May 5, 2008

Exclusive – Heavyweight Opposition to Kirkby Plans

Grosvenor KEIOC can exclusively reveal that the depth of opposition to “Destination Kirkby” has significantly increased with Liverpool City Council and the owners of the one billion pound Liverpool 1 development, Grosvenor Ltd, joining what KEIOC predict will eventually become unanimous local authority opposition to Tesco’s proposed development consisting of the UK’s largest Tesco Store, a massive retail park and a football stadium.

Following Sefton Council's recent objection, Liverpool, having used planning consultants Cushman & Wakefield, are stating that whilst they strongly support Kirkby's need for redevelopment, the following aspects of the proposed development are of concern, Need, Scale, Sequential Approach and Impact and as such an objection should be lodged. Liverpool's proposed objections can be read here.

Cushman & Wakefield's full report can be read here.

Grosvenor Ltd, using their consultants Drivers Jonas, has informed KMBC that whilst they also support regeneration in Kirkby and do not object to the construction of a football stadium they find the size of the development inappropriate and unacceptable. Grosvenor's objections can be read here.

The scale of the retail aspect of the proposed development in Kirkby is crucial to Everton and the deliverability of the proposed stadium which will be subsidised by £50,000,000 provided through a cross subsidy derived from a critical mass of retail development at the proposed site. This is the essence of the whole scheme, without this critical mass there won't be a sufficient subsidy to fund the stadium development, it's essentially a symbiotic relationship; without the stadium there is no need for the critical mass and this critical mass is required by the developers to attract major companies and provide footfall for the retailers.

The requirement of scale is a major hurdle for the developers to overcome as it is disproportionate to the retail requirements of Kirkby with its 40,000 inhabitants and represents a major departure from Government agreed local, regional and national planning policy as stated in Knowsley's Unitary Development Plan and the Regional Spatial Strategy which contains a retail hierarchy that clearly acknowledges Kirkby as a small town and identifies Liverpool at its apex. The developers are attempting to promote Kirkby's position above that of towns five times the size of Kirkby, hence the reasons why all the neighbouring authorities are objecting to this development on the basis of the aforementioned policies.

In addition to these objections the developers and Knowsley council have recently received two major blows from the Government, firstly the office of the Secretary of State rejected objections and attempts by Tesco and Knowsley to influence proposed changes to the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy and secondly a Government think tank on Architecture and design who advise the Secretary of State, CABE, stated that the whole development was not fit for the residents of Knowsley. You can read the CABE report here.

The overwhelming opposition from all neighbouring authorities to the size of the development indicates that a Government enquiry, or a possible judicial review, is inevitable and will add considerable cost to Everton's £78,000,000 contribution. This figure is already under close scrutiny as the constituent contributions, namely the monies from the sale of the clubs two remaining assets, the old training ground at Bellefield and Goodison Park coupled with a securitization of the revenue from a proposed naming rights deal, appear to be wildly optimistic to say the least. The naming rights deal is perhaps the most concerning, Everton are apparently hoping for a deal in excess of that secured by Arsenal from Emirates Airlines.

The board of Everton must now realise that this considerable weight of objections from neighbouring authorities all citing the same clear and apparent departure from local, regional and national planning policy, is a serious threat to the future well being of the club and will hopefully galvanise the board into acting in the best interests of all fans and shareholders alike.

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