Colin Chong, Director of Stadium Development, offers an end-of-year assessment of the Bramley-Moore Dock build, in an exclusive blog…
As a calendar year draws to a close, it’s customary for us to reflect on the events of the previous 12 months. However, this year, I can’t help but reminisce with one eye firmly on the future.
After 40 years in the construction industry, I have been involved in many projects, but this stadium project has been something far more personal.
While it is going to be a bit of a swansong for my career, in terms construction projects, it is without doubt the biggest and the most complex scheme I have been involved in.
This is one of the most exciting projects in this proud Club’s rich history. Before long, and after a hugely eventful six months n-site, you will soon start to see the super-structure of the stadium emerge above the wall that borders Bramley-Moore Dock and Regent Road.
The first steps towards that have already been put in place, or more accurately, set in concrete. But more of that later
A renaissance for North Liverpool
Firstly, I think it is important to acknowledge the impacts of our new home are already being felt. This stadium build is creating jobs, delivering a huge economic boost and, when combined with our Legacy Project at Goodison Park, will create a renaissance for North Liverpool.
We are changing the landscape for the better, a derelict area is going to become one of the most transformational sites in the city, perhaps even the UK. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime development, so we shouldn’t under-estimate the magnitude of what this football club is doing in North Liverpool. A £1.3bn boost to the economy, the creation of more than 15,000 jobs, £650m worth of accelerated regeneration and more than £32m into the pockets of families working on our developments. Now that’s ‘Everton That!’
Planning for planning
People probably don’t appreciate how much pre-planning went into making a meaningful start on site in 2021, but the truth is we had been planning a long time before that.
The fact that Liverpool City Council unanimously approved the planning application, back in February, was a real testament to the overall quality of the pack we submitted.
That left us confident that it would be less likely to be ‘called in’ by the Secretary of State, regardless of the conversations that were going on in relation to the City’s UNESCO heritage status, and we were delighted to get the green light we needed in March from Government.
The support we have had, not only from our supporters but the people of the Liverpool City Region, its businesses and wider national stakeholders has been overwhelming and we look forward to meeting our obligations of delivering this transformational development.
Prior to getting on site at Bramley-Moore Dock last summer, we had already carried out a number of non-planning works which included surveying the land and water body.
It was only after we broke ground in early August that the first major workstreams began. We were able to remove and preserve the on-site heritage assets – most of which will return to site as part of our landscaping and public realm works - and we undertook the demolition of non-listed structures and warehouses.
Just like any major construction project, we have had a few problems that needed solving along the way. Most notably the discovery of a number of UXO’s (unexploded ordnance) in the dock.
This is something we were actively searching for, as we employed former Royal Navy divers to undertake an extensive examination of the dock. We knew Liverpool was bombarded during the Second World War and we expected we may find some anti-aircraft shells or artifacts relating to that period of history.
By finding and dealing with the UXO’s, we have cleared the site of any danger and been able to make the site safer as we set the foundations for the stadium.
However, the most noticeable workstream was the dock infill. This would prove to be one of the biggest challenges, due to the size and scale of the task. It started with the surveying work, which led to us preserving and sealing the dock wall while also removing the junk and more importantly wildlife from the water body. In October we welcomed the Shoalway, the vessel bringing sand from the Irish Sea, as we set about pumping just under 500,000 cubic metres of sand to displace the water.
The amount of organisation needed to just begin that process was extraordinary, and the number of people involved astronomical. I am delighted to report that the dock infill process is now complete and we can look forward to making sure the sand is compacted ready for our new foundations.
90% of underground work complete
Partnering with a tier one contractor the size of Laing O’Rourke has helped us maintain the momentum we need throughout our time on site.
The way our agreement is structured means they are now responsible for project delivery. As the client we have to work collaboratively with the contractors to deliver the project and give them the support they need, but their knowledge, skills and expertise has allowed us to get to the stage we are at today.
In any build, the most problematic work-streams are all in the ground, or in our case, the dock.
We are now 90% out of the ground after the completion of the infill and the start of the piling process to establish the foundations of our new home. We believe the majority, if not all the risks around the infill - that we knew of - have been mitigated.
I’m confident that as we start to come out of the ground, we’ve put ourselves in a good place for the further development of the super-structure come the Spring and Summer.
That brings us right up to the first stage of the super-structure, the actual stadium development itself, the first element of which we saw erected just before Christmas.
Getting the first above-ground components erected before the end of this year was a real statement of intent – and we currently have thousands of structural elements all manufactured off-site ready to be delivered to Bramley-Moore Dock to form part of our stadium super-structure.
While an awful lot of the project is now in our own hands, we will continue to come up against challenges, but we need to make sure we continue to make progress as per our schedule.
I’d like to thank Mr Moshiri, our Chairman Bill Kenwright, Denise [Barrett-Baxendale] and Grant [Ingles]. Their financial commitment to building this stadium has been unwavering, despite the turbulent economic conditions caused by a global pandemic. They have led the project magnificently throughout the year and it is down to their leadership and strategic vison that we have achieved the milestones to date.
Finally, I would also like to thank Evertonians everywhere for their passion and support for this project.
Your backing and belief in what we are doing has been vital.
I know my team and I look forward to bringing you updates as our proud Club’s new home begins to take shape in 2022.
I hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022.