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The Loop ? A Novice's Feasibility Study

By Jim Riches :  08/08/2007 :  Comments (14) :

Weary readers of this great site will be pleased to read that is not another ?for or against Kirkby? piece.  Before the results of the feasibility survey on the Kingsway loop/trumpet site are released next month, I am keen to discover more about the loop site purely on its merits and the facts that we know - not just because it is in the city limits.  I?m trying to find answers about the practical feasibility of the new ground being at the loop before I cast my vote and this article is specifically in relation to Project Jennifer: the importance of which is something many of us have not fully considered.

In terms of regeneration for North Liverpool and the Everton district ? which don?t forget is the most disadvantaged ward in the UK ? Project Jennifer is an exciting and expansive development for the people of North Liverpool.  The Project Jennifer area begins at the northern tip of the loop site and stretches up towards Kirkdale Rd near the start of Stanley Rd.  Reading the council information on the project, the proposal (due to begin in 2009 ? so perfect timing) will include a 130,000 sq ft supermarket, large and small retail outlets, a new replacement market hall, car parking (around 1000 spaces), new residential apartments and housing and a regenerated Everton park.  Project Jennifer is currently at the consultation stage and Grosvenor have so far lodged no complaints about this (to my knowledge).

Alongside Project Jennifer, Merseytravel have proposed a new Vauxhall Railway Station which features in their transport plan for 2006-2011 ? and if it were built it would be a 5 minute walk from the new ground (Wembley Way style).  Because of this major development it would be true to say that the club would not be building on a derelict or run down site, they would building on an area in the process of major redevelopment of which EFC would be a part of.  I?m not sure if this would entitle the site to European funding if it were made crucial to Project Jennifer?  Maybe others could answer that.  The important question for Evertonians is the Bestway loop area which has only just become available after Bestway?s intention to vacate earlier this summer.

I?m concerned to know if the loop could support a large stadium and its fans.  Judging by maps the loop site is large enough for a modern 50,000 stadium ? in fact Arsenal?s new 60,000 stadium could fit into the loop (albeit with no room to spare around the outside), but for a stadium of Arsenal?s size it would require building over part of the Kingsway tunnel approach road.  If you look at a map, the Kingsway approach road is considerably sunken into the ground at the southern & south-eastern end of the loop (as you come out of the tunnel).  It is perfectly conceivable from an architectural and engineering prospective that this part of the road could be covered over by a roof (as in the ?cut and cover? method of tunnelling), which in theory turns the loop site from an ?island? into a ?peninsular?.  The approach road would reappear at the north eastern end where it naturally gets closer to Scotland Rd.  This extra room provides extra space from which to build the ground and provides further access to St Annes St.  Innovative engineering is required but its perfectly possible.

Loop/Emirates overlay

The image at right is not very scientific, but it is in scale so you get the picture.  It shows Arsenal?s Emirates Stadium fitting into the loop and over the southern and south-eastern part of the tunnel approach road.

The reason I use Arsenal?s ground is because engineers and architects managed to squeeze this monster of a stadium into a very confined area in North London, between two major railway lines, roads, houses and a university.  The area around Arsenal?s ground is tight but is manageable.  Everton?s ground at the loop would not be as large but could fit into the area well.  The question of the site being dangerous to fans because of the encircling road could be easily combated by aesthetic fencing and walls.

In terms of access to the ground, it could be provided from various sides.  Over Scotland Rd from a pedestrian bridge to a possible new rail station ? and easily from Gt Homer St and St Anne St (particularly if the tunnel approach road is covered over).  The pavements for the walk from town would have to be to improved along St Annes St, particularly the crossings at the Islington junction with St Annes St.  The Scotland Road / Hunter St junction is already bridged.  The walk would be 10-15 minutes from town should there be a suitable walking route devised by the council.  Public transport would be in easy reach.  However, parking would be a problem and a solution would have to be devised.

Traffic wise, there would be additional traffic in the area which already suffers from heavy traffic at peak times but it is not blighted by pollution.  However, the new ground would have to be independent from Scotland Road because that part of Scotland Road is more like a motorway in design and it would be unsafe.  Scotland Road at this point is fenced off from pavements and there is no stopping, no coach parking, no pedestrians running across the road etc.  Should the ground be built the traffic passing the ground would be doing just that ? passing it, completely independent from the match day traffic.

All traffic therefore for the match would have to go via Vauxhall Rd for drop-offs, St Anne?s St (which is already a major and under-used road artery) and Gt Homer St which would need an upgrade.

  1. Match traffic for the ground from the South and Queensway Tunnel would divert up Hunter St and then left on to St Anne?s St (this junction has already had a multi million pound upgrade to accommodate this). 
  2. Match traffic from the East and City would come through Islington and then right onto St Anne?s St. 
  3. Traffic from the North would enter Gt Homer St from Kirkdale Road ? which would have to be upgraded as it is currently a major congestion pinch point.
  4. Match traffic from Kingsway could split both northbound and southbound ? and there is no reason why there would be additional traffic from the Wirral given there are two tunnels.

Where this traffic would go however is another question.  There is no suitable parking except for the new Project Jennifer parking, which would probably be for shoppers only.  My guess is that a new park and ride facility would have to used or people would be forced to park in town (expensive), or just get the bus/train (abundant).

The regeneration question is vital.  From a planning point of view, EFC stadium could be the missing link to Project Jennifer extending to the southern section - which is land south of the loop earmarked for development.  EFC could use this land for the so called ?enabling development?.  However it would require the demolition of homes and businesses which is no easy task.  From an economic perspective it would come dangerously close to the city centre which would bring about an objection from Grosvenor.  Therefore I?m not sure how EFC and a major investor (ie Bestway/Tesco) could be involved in the Project Jennifer site, given that the St Modwen Group are already the development partner.  However, because LCC has created a project team on this I think that the council may think this is feasible unless you believe that Warren Bradley is trying to scupper the Kirkby vote.

The loop site leads me to believe that there are two truths.

  1. A large stadium could be built on the site and be unique in style due to its enclosed position with reasonably good accessibility.
  2. Without the enabling investment, there can be no stadium.  Therefore either Bestway have got to be extremely generous (unlikely) or a new EFC ground has to be incorporated into the important regenerative Project Jennifer plan.

I wait to see what the proposals are for the loop.  What a shame they will be on show after the ballot.

[The full extent of the Loop proposals probably won't be known until after the closure of the ballot but the first images are expected to be unveiled soon, perhaps even as early as today — Ed]

Reader Comments

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Editorial Team
1   Posted 09/08/2007 at 06:41:38

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Jim, Bestway’s representatives at the St George’s Hall presentation were clear that the envisioned enabling development would primarily be business and residential, thereby complementing — but not being incorporated into — Project Jennifer and not posing competition to Grosvenor’s Liverpool 1 initiative.
2   Posted 09/08/2007 at 08:20:55

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The area off Scottie around Dalrymple Street is perfect for the stadium. Far enough away from the tunnel entrance to cause disruption and exit points on to Scottie and Great Homer St.
Greg Murphy
3   Posted 09/08/2007 at 09:16:45

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Jim, I agree it?s a shame that the Bestway proposals - i.e. the ?full? extent of them, to which the TW editor refers to above - won?t be available until post-ballot (possibly not until much later in September, in fact). If a ?blame? is to be levied here, then I suggest it must lie squarely at EFC?s door on two counts. Firstly, the willing imposition of the exclusivity period (EP). Secondly, the headlong rush into a Kirkby ballot after the conclusion of the EP (indeed, has it ever been officially confirmed that it is over?).

I believe that while the likes of Bestway were prepared to devote some time in early 2007 into the exploration of such a project, they couldn?t, in honesty, be expected to saturate their diaries with the formulation of a fully costed plan, given there was never a guarantee they?d ever be allowed to speak to Everton. What business would ever spend that much time developing a case-potential they may never be allowed to present? Madness. Major corporates like Bestway simply can?t and don?t operate like that. Certainly Tesco wouldn?t. And I think that was one of the chief wrecking-balls of the Leahy-dictated EP - to prevent any other party even bothering to explore possibilities.

What EFC and Leahy clearly hadn?t banked on was that Bestway, regardless of the EP, have indeed worked behind the scenes but only to the limited extent that it was prepared to. What should have happened, was that once the EP was over (remember, Wyness said at December?s AGM that it would last only ?four or five months?) that other parties should then have been invited to the table; and then EFC should have held a ballot either later in the year (possibly circa the AGM) or as early as possible in 2008, with multiple options.

What nobody expected was that the EP would effectively finish and then we?d be propelled immediately, within weeks, into a ballot with ?no Plan B?. It?s only three weeks since Wyness really started to reveal the wider (but still conflicting) details of the Kirkby costings structure, so giving the first indicators to any potential partners like Bestway as to what EFC might require from any package. But of course, now that we?re deep into the ballot phase, the likes of Bestway, having been forced to operate in the dark for the last nine months, are suddenly expected to work with one arm behind its back and run like hell in order to meet the ?arbitrary? EFC imposed timescales of the ballot. It was simply never going to be possible that we?d learn the full extent of the Bestway proposal this side of the ballot deadline and I think EFC/Tesco would have known this. Hence the rush. I?m amazed, actually, that Bestway have even got as far as they have (without even being allowed to talk to EFC yet!) but of course any presentation of theirs at this stage, which must surely fall short of revealing the total package, runs the risk of being dismissed as ?too late and too light.? Another month or two, though, might make all the difference. But that obviously doesn?t suit Tesco.

So, rather than presenting a ?great PR on the face of it? vote to us, Evertonians - whether pro or anti Kirkby - have effectively been sent a gambling chip. Do we throw it in now and go to Kirkby based on the so-so cards we?ve already seen? Or stick awhile and await a better hand? Really, we should never have been placed in such an invidious situation. It?s scandalously riven the fan base and, after all these years, we could surely have waited a few more months - six tops - to make a more informed decision. And yet all we hear from EFC is how good they?ve been to give us this poisoned chalice vote in the first place. Well, I feel as grateful as a parent who?s seen his kid wash the family car with a Brillo pad!

John Charles
4   Posted 09/08/2007 at 11:29:58

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LCC treating you all like complete morons.

So the result of there study wont be available until after the vote closes?! How convinient!!

I’ll tell you what the LCC study shows right now

1) If Evertonians vote no to kirkby it will show the loop is not viable.

2) If Evertonians vote yes for kirkby then it was viable and you sold yourselves out the city.

Just how dumb are we all?
Peter Laing
5   Posted 09/08/2007 at 11:36:00

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Your very reasoned argument for the loop site seems both well researched and as a concept achievable. The return of Everton to an area synonomous with its heritage and birthplace is also hugely appealing, issues such as carparking could easily be solved, the area around Everton Park remaining largely derelict. The view from Everton brow would also be magnificent, the waterfront developments and high rises complimented by a gleaming new stadium. However the big question is deliverability, financing the project and issues concerning planning permission etc. The voting papers as you are aware have come through, my vote for Kirkby is a resounding ’yes’, a decision based purely on what appears to be a concrete and sustainable plan for Everton’s progress. My fear with the loop as with other sites identified is another King’s dock fiasco, that was a bitter and painful experience and humiliation, any further setbacks and Everton will continue in terminal decline.
James Grundy
6   Posted 09/08/2007 at 12:23:21

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Have a look at the above link to see how other stadia would fit into the loop
7   Posted 09/08/2007 at 12:35:13

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personally i think with the loop option , l.c.c are trying to deflect criticism from themselves and onto everton fc.

compared to there effort in helping liverpool fc get there new ground , l.c.c have shown little or no interest/effort in finding everton a new home.

im sorry but the loop is too little , too late. also if everton do move to kirkby i hope the ’no’ voters dont take it out on the football club but realise its l.c.c that are to blame and it is they who should be singled out as the reason why everton were forced to move outside the city.
sonofa binman
8   Posted 09/08/2007 at 13:00:50

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The article itself pretty much explains why the loop will never hapen, who’s going to pay for the ifs, buts and maybes?

Have you read our C.E.O.’s open letter on the club site?
Greg Murphy
9   Posted 09/08/2007 at 14:04:38

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Here’s a shorter link to James Grundy’s images.
Barry Kingham
10   Posted 09/08/2007 at 14:09:35

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Keith Wyness’s letter to fans pretty much sums up a lot of points in Jim’s article - where do the cars go? If the Project Jennifer development is there how can you have additional enabling development unless you are a part of it or without upsetting Grosvenor? Extra bridges will have to be built - who pays for this?

However, Keith Wyness also conceeeds there has been no real feasibility study made for this site, so I think we should try to discover more about it - at least we’re now getting a clearer picture with James Grundy’s images, Jim’s article and Lyndon Lloyd’s initial exploratory article.

What we do know is that a stadium can fit on this site but where does the cash come from? Thats the burning question and thats why I for one would like to know more before I cast my vote.
toffee rapper
11   Posted 09/08/2007 at 15:21:02

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I’ve seen this argument before and have checked the dimensions of the emirates against the loop site - it does not anywhere near fit. some liar from the KEIOC even drew up a picture showing a huge concourse round the emirates all fitting comfortably inside the loop! This sort of calculated mis-information has to stop, the sites too small, its gonna have all sorts of legal problems, LCC are just trying to save face, and will say "well, we tried" if we vote yes, and will say "sorry, cant be done" if we say no.
Dispicable actions from a dispicable Council. Matthew Street should be a warning to all Evertonians.
Marko Poutiainen
12   Posted 09/08/2007 at 18:03:46

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I just used Google Earth - and I suggest anyone try it for themselves - to test how Emirates fits. By rotating it slightly, you can fit it so that the south east corner is over the left lane of the loop road, but apart from that, Emirates fits.

So fitting a stadium of that size into the loop is no problem.
chris taggart
13   Posted 09/08/2007 at 20:37:02

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Greg you say
?I believe that while the likes of Bestway were prepared to devote some time in early 2007 into the exploration of such a project, they couldn?t, in honesty, be expected to saturate their diaries with the formulation of a fully costed plan, given there was never a guarantee they?d ever be allowed to speak to Everton. What business would ever spend that much time developing a case-potential they may never be allowed to present??
Yet there are criticisms of the board for having no plan B, the suggestion that the Bestway loop was a possibility in early 2007 is laughable, I don?t see any billboard outside the loop stating development site available, why should the board ?ever spend that much time developing a case-potential they may never be allowed to present (for a site they don?t own)?? I think bully has a point why aren?t the other two sites being considered by the Keioc led troika? Who are the potential investors for those sites? Why no plan b for the plan b?
You also say
What should have happened, was that once the EP was over (remember, Wyness said at December?s AGM that it would last only ?four or five months?) that other parties should then have been invited to the table; and then EFC should have held a ballot either later in the year (possibly circa the AGM) or as early as possible in 2008, with multiple options.
What football club offers its customer base multiple options in major business decisions did Coventry, Man city, Sunderland? No they didn?t, and again they can?t win, if it?s a No vote our immediate future is stagnation at the old girl as much as I love the place and if its a yes it will be they only got the mandate by XYZ votes
You also say
The likes of Bestway, having been forced to operate in the dark for the last nine months, are suddenly expected to work with one arm behind its back and run like hell in order to meet the ?arbitrary? EFC imposed timescales of the ballot.
Again I can only see bestway there are no ?likes of ?or otherwise if there was another company willing to invest circa 150,000,000 in the area we would have heard about it, the fact that we have not speaks volumes, you can point to the EP all you want but the fact remains that from the lapse of kings dock to the announcement of the EP the door has been there to be knocked on by any interested investor, which will no doubt elicit the typical its bills train set and he?s not letting any one play response
EFC announced over 18 months ago their intention to investigate building a new stadium well before the start of the EP interested parties have been able to come to the fore well before the start of the EP and in fact it was made public on 31st may 2006 that KMBC offered the choice of 3 sites to EFC for conideration 3 sites, 1,2,3, not 18 months later like LCC going we have 3 sites but we will investigate 1

I think the no vote is a mistake for the following reason, it will let the LCC of the hook, and they will have kept Everton in the city at no real cost or confirmation of promises to develop other sites the board will abandon Kirby and have to start again, find an investor, find a site , investigate, secure funding etc,
A yes vote however could be the rocket LCC need to start talking numbers instead of options or should that be option? A yes vote would bring the stark reality to LCC that they will be without a true icon of the sport and of the city and would expect to see a Bradley shaped hole in bills door before you could say preferred development partner
You mention throwing a gambling chip into the pot, I think it time we called Bradleys bluff we may not have a made hand but even with a yes vote there are still outs.
New Stadium
14   Posted 20/08/2007 at 10:24:23

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HOK may be right in that a 50,000 seater stadim can be built in the loop. Howver EFC need 60,000 at least and the Kirkby projcet gives the scoipe for expansion.

The loop is a no, no, for obvious reasons.

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