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Liverpool to submit Anfield plans by end of season

ESPN staff
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Liverpool hope to complete the work in four years' time © PA Photos
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Liverpool hope to submit plans to expand Anfield by the end of this season and complete the work by 2018, according to a new document released by the city's council.

More details on the club's stadium development plans, along with proposals to improve the surrounding area, have been put forward in a document entitled the Anfield Spatial Regeneration Framework (SRF).

A draft of the document is set to be considered by Liverpool City Council on February 7. If its contents are approved, it will then be put out for a four-week public consultation period before the plans can be adopted officially by the council.

Those hurdles must be cleared as part of the legal process of pushing ahead with a planned £260 million regeneration of the Anfield area of the city, which includes Liverpool's stadium.

The regeneration project - a partnership between the football club, the council and local social housing group Your Housing - was first announced in October 2012.

That was when Liverpool's America owners Fenway Sports Group confirmed their intention to expand Anfield rather than push ahead with plans for a new stadium in neighbouring Stanley Park.

The club want to extend the Main Stand and Anfield Road End in order to increase capacity, but the problem has always been that the ground has been hemmed in by housing, offering little space for expansion.

A number of houses backing on to Anfield would need to be demolished to allow stadium redevelopment. Liverpool City Council has agreed deals for 67 of the 71 homes affected by the stadium plans, and is considering compulsory purchase orders for the remaining four homes, owned by two people.

The document states that "subject to residents' support and planning approval, the club would wish to expand its Main Stand, followed by potential redevelopment of its Anfield Road stand".

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said in a statement: "The publication of the draft SRF document is another important step in the regeneration project as we continue the exciting journey to transform the Anfield area.

"Any final decision regarding a future stadium expansion continues to be based on certainty - a certainty that we can obtain the necessary land around the stadium to facilitate the expansion; certainty that there is demand for any future expansion; certainty that we have home owners' support; and certainty we can navigate the complex planning landscape."

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson added: "The publication of the draft SRF sends a very clear message to people of North Liverpool: a brighter Anfield is coming.

"This is one of the most important milestones in the recent history of north Liverpool. These plans have evolved over the last year thanks to the people of Anfield themselves.

"Now we want those residents and businesses to speak to us again and let us know if they want these plans to become a reality."

The last significant expansion of Anfield resulted in the opening of the Centenary Stand - replacing the old Kemlyn Road Stand - in 1992, although the Kop and Anfield Road stands were also rebuilt during the 1990s.

Liverpool first went public with plans for further expansion in 1999. Then-chairman David Moores was reluctant to risk the club's future by taking out a £200m loan to pay for the redevelopment, though, instead deciding to find a buyer with the funds to do so.

That resulted in American businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillett buying the club and attempting to pursue the Stanley Park stadium, but they did not have the money to fund the plan and were eventually forced to sell Liverpool to Fenway Sports Group in October 2010 as debts mounted.

John W Henry, who has been the club's principal owner since then, has always preferred the idea of remaining at Anfield. He has said previously that the money is in place to pay for stadium expansion once planning permission is secured.

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