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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Architectural Society Exhibition

Liverpool Architectural Society - Press Release

On the evening of the 28th October 2010, the Liverpool Architectural Society DIYIC exhibition will be opened by the Royal Institute of British Architects President, Ruth Reed, at the Daily Post’s Exchange Building on Old Hall Street; it is the culmination of a year's activities that have focussed on the inner-city.

The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday 29th October for three weeks. Of the 29 community-led exhibits in the DIYIC exhibition, three focus on the city’s two Premier League Football Clubs.

The Football Quarter

Conservation and Expansion in Walton

The Connex Stadium


The Football Quarter

For the last couple of years, powerful community groups have been formed to express the supporters’ point-of-view and their dissatisfaction at the way things have been run off the field, with a particular focus on stadium issues.

KEIOC [Keeping Everton In Our City] was part of the coalition of organisations that successfully opposed Everton’s projected move to Kirkby. Spirit of Shankly mounted a campaign against the previous owners of Liverpool Football Club.

Both supporters’ groups came together to propose a feasibility study into the setting up of a Football Quarter; they have made joint presentations to both Liverpool City Council and Everton Football Club. Spirit of Shankly have also held recent discussions with the new owners at Anfield.

The suggestion is that, whilst the clubs should develop their separate stadia, they should share the expensive transport and tourism infrastructure. There is a feeling that the Stanley Park area could be redeveloped profitably by the City, working with a private development partner [in a non-retail equivalent of the Liverpool One development], with the two clubs and the local communities of Anfield and Walton being active partners in a development that would be unique in its embrace of two major Football Clubs, celebrating both their shared history and their distinct separate identities.

The supporters’ groups are bemused that the City Council and organisations such as The Mersey Partnership seem reluctant to recognise that the two-million-plus annual visits to the football grounds makes the Stanley Park area by far the largest visitor attraction in the city region, yet also one that has obvious unrealised potential for expansion and development. The parallel with the previously failing retail sector [that was identified ten years ago, leading to the massive investment in Liverpool One] should not be ignored.

Conservation and Expansion in Walton

Another exhibit looks at the potential for expansion of Goodison Park as part of the creation of a new Conservation Area taking in the historic streets and buildings between County Road and Stanley Park.

The area is in need of care and attention, but the community remains strong and the underlying townscape is full of interest. With a little imagination, it could be made fit to welcome visitors from around the World. Goodison Park’s historic structures should survive as part of a modernised and expanded stadium, with the work taking place in affordable phases linked to along-term business plan.

Architect and Liverpool Architectural Society President, Trevor Skempton, working closely with KEIOC, has shown how such a piece of urban surgery could happen. This is not about creating a new architectural statement, but about preserving the best of the history of the World’s first major football stadium, the ‘Old Lady’ that is Goodison Park, which houses a club that has played more seasons in the top flight than any other.

This proposal would be entirely in tune with ideas for a Football Quarter, and early sketches show a landmark tower ‘Hotel 1878’ which would be linked to a new stand overlooking the recently-restored Stanley Park Lake.

The Connex Stadium

The third exhibit promoting a football theme is the controversial connex stadium proposal, an alternative to the redevelopment of the existing grounds. Readers of the Liverpool Echo were surprised, a few months ago, by a proposal, by a local consortium, for a twin stadium proposed within the footprint of the planning approval for the New Anfield. The basis for this was the difficulty then many fans had in accepting the idea of a single shared stadium, yet a general acknowledgement, by many, that sharing as much of the supporting infrastructure as possible makes sense.

This is an excellent opportunity to compare the features and benefits of two facinating proposals.

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