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Tom Hughes' Response to KSS Design Group

Kirkby stadium designers KSS Design Group were asked to analyse and seemingly dismiss the initial Goodison Park redevelopment plans. Evertonian architect Tom Hughes' has responded to their analysis, original quotes from the KSS statement are highlighted in bold.

"1 - Setting aside additional land acquisition, phasing complexity, the likely difficulty in obtaining planning approval and the overall financial non-viability, the report does not demonstrate in the first instance that a larger capacity stadium can be built on the site."

The plans, which are only briefly summarised in the write-up, are a scale representation drawn over full site plans. Therefore, they literally do demonstrate what is physically possible on this site given the conservative land-take proposed. The scheme illustrated in the write-up is just one of several linked possibilities to redevelop the site. The phasing complexity of which is nothing extraordinary for any of these related options, as is the proposed land acquisition which for one of the options mentioned in the write-up is non-existent.

"2 - The holistic redevelopment proposal impacts heavily on the surrounding residential area. The oversailing of site boundaries on Goodison Road and Bullens Road, and loss of amenity and adverse effect on daylight and sunlight to adjoining residential properties are raised as potential problems (which they are), but not addressed as part of the solution, whilst the loss of the junior school on Bullens Road is simply ignored altogether."

The School infringement is shown and is minimal. Certainly not to the extent of requiring its "loss". I believe there has been some speculation regarding the school's future, and there is also the potential to incorporate some elements of a new school building within a redeveloped Bullens Road side if the school is not to be relocated. This will further connect the club to the local community. The light infringement is also mentioned and resultant shading calculated. This results in the property acquisition mentioned. Following a planning consultation, a further amendment to the proposed new Gwladys street was required for full compliance at this end. This was mentioned in the write-up; although the drawings were not shown as there was insufficient time to complete these. Of course this could be offset by increased build elsewhere or indeed by the acquisition of these properties also. However, this is all outlined in the report, and again has little effect on the final capacity.

"3 - The principles behind the provision of safe access and egress for the increased number of spectators in and around the stadium are not understood or addressed. The proposal continues to rely on the existing surrounding road infrastructure to accommodate the additional match day capacity without demonstrating the additional space necessary to do so safely. Access to seating areas oversailing the site boundaries is not addressed."

This is the same infrastructure that has served not only one but 2 major football clubs for over a century The same infrastructure that is soon to be enhanced to accommodate a potential 75,000 seater stadium in the Park only a few hundred metres away. The same infrastructure that enjoys something like a 10:1 public transport advantage over Kirkby, as well as the obvious benefits of being more central with far better access/dispersal to and from ALL directions as opposed to just ONE direction if situated at the periphery of the main catchment in Kirkby. The circulatory routes are shown to be increased on all sides except the Goodison Road side (Where there are other possible solutions). The Bullens Road circulation can take place on 2 levels for its entire length, and is substantially widened for most of its length at ground level, the width of Gwladys street is doubled, and the Park end is wide open. The only area oversailing a boundary is at the straightened end of the Top Balcony. This is illustrated, however, it is also stated that this aspect of the plan is not obligatory for the new configuration to work. However, there are several precedents for oversailing existing roads in any case.

"4 - The proposal concentrates on providing as much seating as possible, but ignores the detailed requirements of current safety design legislation, which will have a major impact on overall capacity. Seating and gangway provisions to upper tiers do not comply with acceptable standards, and huge cantilevered upper tiers will either require intermediate support columns which in turn blight sightlines, or alternatively massive balancing structures to the rear. Access and seating provision for disabled spectators is ignored completely."

Having spoken to the person responsible for the report. There are some minor issues regarding the number of gangways in the corner sections as depicted in the drawings shown. In some places the limit of 14 seats per end of row has been exceeded. Some vomitories/gangways also require widening. These issues were already known about and were actually stated by me in our conversation. Other than that, overall the concept's seating plan complies sufficiently for a preliminary outline. Conversely, there are some areas shown where there is an excess provision of gangways which has not been mentioned or allowed for in his 'analysis', therefore any perceived seating loss in the affected corners, which is negligible in any case, can be made up there. Regardless, the capacity of each section is calculated using a spread sheet incorporating the general formulas for 14 seats per one ended row, and 28 per 2 ended row. These are therefore not affected by the depiction in the drawings. Therefore the actual calculated capacity will not be affected by these minor amendments. As regards cantilevered upper tiers: Having spoken to the architect, he tells me he is not a structural engineer and that NO structural analysis of this configuration has been carried out. He insists that his judgement was only in terms of a general rule of thumb that is normally applied. When I asked what that "rule of thumb" was he was unable/unprepared to disclose. When asked what dimensions were used or what structural section sizes he applied those rules to, he was unable to answer other than to say he estimated the depth of the cantilever. When I offered to supply examples of similarly cantilevered structures he did not comment. Furthermore, the insistence on the necessity of counterbalancing structures is at best misleading.

They are not always required as he has stipulated (although I included a massive one at the Park End which appears to have been ignored), otherwise new stands such as this could not exist:

Stadium Design
Or any number of similar structures around the world. There is no static or dynamic loading study, no natural frequency calcs to support this assertion. There is no consideration or appreciation of additional rigidity/support supplied by the horse-shoe configuration which is an intrinsic quality of this structural format.

"5 - Goodison Park is already one of the tightest larger stadia in the UK with poor seating and back of house standards for general spectators and a relatively low hospitality capacity. Even accepting that the moving of the pitch to the south will generate space for a larger (but not necessarily larger capacity) Gwladys Street stand, and the release of car park area will allow a larger Park End stand, the higher space standards required for modern stadia mean it must be questionable whether it is feasible to build a modern stadium of the same current capacity of just over 40,000, let alone one at least 25% larger."

I believe this is covered in point 1. A significant stand footprint increase has been achieved by the pitch movement, and bridging Bullens Road. More than 100% increase at the Park End alone, more than 30% on both Bullens Road and Gwladys Street, with increased and more efficient utilisation of ALL corner sections (3 of which are currently redundant areas). The drawings are to scale, and capacity calcs taken from number of rows and their lengths measured from these drawings. At this preliminary stage there was no requirement for a complete people movement analysis. As an individual with limited time and resources this was not practicable with the imminent vote. However, for this I used my own empirical "rule of thumb"  based on the fact that the site has accommodated a stadium for over a century, a stadium that at one point in its history held double its current capacity, a stadium for which I have over 35 years experience of attending. The result is an increase of internal and external circulation and concourse areas in much greater proportion to that of the proposed capacity increase.

In Summary, instead of requesting to see the full and amended plans, the club have decided to attempt to rubbish a scheme that is based around physical dimensions and facts, which was put together by an individual (although I have received professional guidance from very experienced sources) in a very limited time. The Architect has been employed by the club directly to paint the worst possible picture of a CONCEPT DESIGN that is by definition not a final plan but a flexible solution (one of several) that can be manipulated and shown to comply with all relevant standards. There is no direct referral to any dimensions or suitability of structural elements, but the application of 'rules of thumb' via various assumptions and without key criteria. Most issues are totally unsubstantiated and unfounded. The criticisms are without referral to any actual drawings since they have not been requested. Despite this there are NO "show-stopping" points within the list, which in any case would be irrelevant at this preliminary stage. The list consists of mainly throw away statements and jargon passed off as analysis. I asked the Architect to supply substantiating evidence, this he said required permission from the club, as they are his employer on this project. He has since been unattainable.

Suffice to say, it would be interesting to see a similar 'analysis' of the proposed stadium in Kirkby.

However, I would like to state that as an Evertonian more than any technical issue; I have to question the club's motives in even undertaking these actions (although it is consistent with the hard-sell tactics applied throughout). Likewise the similar treatment of the Bestway proposals.
This has been at the very least unprofessional. In terms of a fair voting process it has been misleading, manipulative and in my personal opinion abhorrent! NIL SATIS NISI OPTIMUM indeed!