ANFIELD AT THE CROSSROADS; It's Not All about Football. It's about Real People Too. North Liverpool's Social Issues Need DAY 4 Urgent DAY 3 Attention and It Is Still Waiting ATTHE REDS for a New REDS AT THE CROSSROADS LFC CROSSROADS Stadium in the Heart of the Community, Marc Waddington Repor Ts

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), March 4, 2010 | Go to article overview

ANFIELD AT THE CROSSROADS; It's Not All about Football. It's about Real People Too. North Liverpool's Social Issues Need DAY 4 Urgent DAY 3 Attention and It Is Still Waiting ATTHE REDS for a New REDS AT THE CROSSROADS LFC CROSSROADS Stadium in the Heart of the Community, Marc Waddington Repor Ts


Byline: Marc Waddington

WHILE regeneration is underway across Liverpool, the scheme in Anfield is unique.

At the heart of this neighbourhood is one of the most famous football clubs in the world.

As such, unlike areas like Kensington and Wavertree, it attracts thousands of people from across the UK, Europe and the wider world on a weekly basis.

One of the poorest parts of the country, Anfield suffers with high unemployment, poor health and poor- quality housing.

While some homes have been razed to the ground, many of the pre-1919 two-up, two-down terraces remain, a boarded-up blight on the landscape.

Above them all rises Liverpool FC's Anfield stadium.

A cornerstone of the community, in recent years the club's indecision about whether to rebuild on its current footprint or up sticks to Stanley Park has at times strained relations with residents.

Houses close to the ground were demolished in anticipation of rebuilding on site, but the plan never came to fruition.

Since the first terraces came down, more rows of houses have either been boarded up or demolished as part of NewHeartlands, the pounds 50m-plus housing market renewal programme.

But there are mixed views as to how integral to Anfield's renaissance Liverpool FC actually is.

Liverpool council and regeneration officials argue the housing programme will happen "whether the club stays or goes".

The club itself has said a new stadium on Stanley Park would be "a catalyst for the regeneration of the area".

But housing officials say the club's future and the new homes plan are, while closely related, distinct projects which happen to be running at the same time.

Certainly, the club does and will play a major regeneration role in economic terms, but recognises its decision about a news stadium is not the be-all and end-all of the area's renaissance.

Andrea Titterington, Liverpool FC's regeneration director, said: "Some elements of the regeneration of Anfield and Breckfield do not depend upon stadium development, specifically schools and housing.

"But the redevelopment of the stadium would result in a major injection of new employment, estimated at 772 full-time jobs in the economic impact assessment carried out for the planning applications, and an improved environment.

"Therefore as a catalyst for the economic prosperity of the area, it remains extremely important."

The "catalyst" claim is not without foundation. Unlike other regeneration schemes, it has not benefited from swathes of taxpayers' money.

Mrs Titterington said: "No public funding has been received by LFC, but our match-funding of more than pounds 6m has enabled the council to receive pounds 9.2m European funding for projects including the Isla Gladstone conservatory in Stanley Park, as well as highways and infrastructure improvements."

The club has invested more than pounds 650,000 on restoring 10 houses in Skerries Road, and sold 10 homes at below-market value as a pilot project in the Rockfield Road area.

Given the club's involvement in some aspects of housing regeneration, it is perhaps understandable there is a misconception that the entire area's regeneration is reliant on what the club chooses to do.

Sue Hirst, the council's principal officer for Anfield and Breckfield, said the two are not mutually dependent.

She said: "The regeneration will happen irrespective of whether the club stays or goes.

"The project is about rebuilding the area, and building the houses people want to live in. Something had to be done, the area could not be left.

"The masterplan for the area is not just about clearance and acquisition of properties.

"When we sat for hours with community representatives, we told them the masterplan stands up whether the football club stays or goes. …

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ANFIELD AT THE CROSSROADS; It's Not All about Football. It's about Real People Too. North Liverpool's Social Issues Need DAY 4 Urgent DAY 3 Attention and It Is Still Waiting ATTHE REDS for a New REDS AT THE CROSSROADS LFC CROSSROADS Stadium in the Heart of the Community, Marc Waddington Repor Ts
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