Chong reflects on ‘seismic’ change

The change we’ve seen on the site over the past year, on what used to be a complete wasteland, is nothing short of an earthquake.

We created an additional 23 acres of land, which is a big step in itself, and it was difficult, no doubt, for many reasons.

Everton looked at a similar site around 20 years ago and sadly it never happened.

But this is the best and only site for Everton Football Club’s new stadium.

This will be the place-making project for North Liverpool and the amount of regeneration it will stimulate, from central Liverpool, all the way north, is going to be astronomical.

The stadium is the catalyst for all of this and for me it will be the fourth grace; the most iconic building alongside the majestic trio that encompasses Liverpool.

It will be the gateway to the Irish Sea and the first substantial architectural feature people will see when arriving in the city on new cruise liners.

That’s for the future though.

Here and now, the amount of activity that has taken place since Laing O’Rourke took over the site last summer is incredible.

In many ways, witnessing the rise of development firsthand is just the tip of the iceberg.

Unseen, below the waterline, was all the pre-planning that took place over the previous months and, in some cases, years; from site selection, design work, approval of plans, appointment of a construction partner and placing of all orders.

There is a great amount of work that has already taken place and we won’t soon forget it, once we see the superstructure take shape.

Before Christmas, seeing some of this become visible above ground was a big milestone for us.

And it followed one of the biggest maritime engineering developments in the North of England.

The amount of equipment used was unfathomable and, as is standard in the industry, we actually had to place some orders for boats and barges to harvest the sand in February 2020.

These were large orders of tens of millions of pounds which we were confidently placing before we got final planning permission, so the owner’s level of commitment and foresight was unwavering.

Mr. Moshiri and the board have been totally supportive of me and four years ago if someone said to me “would you be happy where you are today? I would have torn his hand off.

We could not have hoped for a better outcome than the plan we presented to the Council at the time.

Notwithstanding external issues, such as Brexit, the pandemic, inflation, and any less obvious challenges, such as three storms in the last week, where we are now is weeks away from where we said we wanted to be.

It’s proof that the board takes advice and wants to do the right thing in a dynamic environment.

It’s going as well as expected, and we’re still on track with our strategic timeline and schedule.

I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months will bring.