Southend United Football Club ink deal on new home arena



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Southend United new stadium update April 2020 Image: Southend United FC

The Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Citizen Housing LLP and Southend United Football Club in Essex, England, struck a deal recently vis-à-vis face-lifting of Roots Hall for 502 new homes for rent, and the delivery of a new stadium at Fossetts Farm – with new homes replacing the proposed out-of-town retail development.

Southend United Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England. The team competes in League One, the third tier of English football and their home ground is Roots Hall.

Fossetts Farm Stadium is the provisional name for a 21,000-capacity stadium proposed to be built in Southend-on-Sea as a new home for Southend United Football Club to replace Roots Hall Stadium.

The stadium at Fossetts Farm will be enabled by around 800 homes for rent through the pact entered into with the Council, and potentially hundreds more homes through a separate joint venture between Citizen Housing LLP and a third party. The stadium will also attribute for a health center, convenience store and a community hub at Fossetts Farm.

All the housing delivered with the Council will be let out on rent including 30 percent at affordable rent levels. The agreement will also consolidate a significant long-term income for the Council.

However, both the Roots Hall and Fossetts Farm sites plans will depend on the planning process.

The proposals have the provisional backing of Homes England in the form of a significant investment loan to finance infrastructure and fund the construction of the venue on the basis that a substantial quantity of new housing will be built. It is proposed that the first phase of the new facility will be equipped with 14,000 seats.

The amended plans will remove the threat of major out-of-town competition to the town center. This change will prove to be a confidence-boosting measure for businesses, landlords and investors in the town center and on the High Street, in particular.

Councilor Ian Gilbert, leader of the Council, stated, “This is really very significant news for all of us. I am very pleased that despite the current difficult circumstances we have been able to move this forward. The Council has been working closely with the football club over an extended period to move this project forwards and I am pleased to see that we have got to this stage, which would not only see much needed new homes built, but also take away the threat to the town center from the previously proposed retail element.”

Gilbert added, “We need to build more homes as a borough, we want more affordable rented homes, we need to generate more income into the council to fund local services and we are seeing more than ever how essential these services are. We have always recognized the importance of the football club to the borough and we now have the opportunity to enable them to deliver their new stadium and secure the club’s future. So, this is a win-win situation.”

“I, therefore, look forward to moving ahead with this and working with the football club on these exciting and transformational plans,” exulted Gilbert.

Citizen Housing’s forte is to team up with both the public sector and landowners to deliver housing-led regeneration schemes. Citizen Housing’s development model revolves around delivering affordable housing which is very much in demand.

Jack Martin, spokesman for Citizen Housing, observed, “This major public-private partnership will deliver high quality, sustainable housing that will cater for the needs of the local community. Under the proposed plans, the partnership will deliver c.400 new affordable homes on the two sites. These will be available for rent at truly affordable levels along with many homes for private rent. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Homes England, to bring these two exciting projects to fruition.”

The Chairman of Southend United Football Club, Ron Martin, remarked, “We listened to the Council’s concerns, in particular, the impact of the proposed enabling retail development on the town center. The collaborative approach achieved with the Council, together with our other partners, will deliver a project that I believe the people of Southend-on-Sea will be very proud of. We are delighted for all our supporters that this agreement will unlock the delivery of Southend United’s new home, enabling the club to fulfill its long-held potential.”

All four Group Leaders have inked on the proposed arrangement, as part of governance arrangements put in place to make certain that key council business can run even through the coronavirus crisis and whilst the council awaits further nod from the Government to allow virtual meetings. The Cabinet will consider the matter further before the agreements are completed but the next stage of work can now progress.
 

Synopsis:

  • Southend United Football Club seeks planning nod for both developments;
     
  • If planning permission is greenlighted, Citizen Housing LLP will enable the funding and construction of both sites. The Council will not be required to pump in funds in the development of either site but its covenant strength facilitates the financing of the transactions;
     
  • The Council will be granted long leases over the 502 homes at Roots Hall and the c.800 new homes constructed at Fossetts Farm;
     
  • The rent payable by the Council will be set at a substantially discounted level to open market rents therefore making it possible for the Council to benefit from a long-term sustainable income stream from the completed units;
     
  • The Council will ease the entire process of management of the leased homes and will sublet the individual units to residential tenants, 30 percent at affordable rents and the balance at market rents;
     
  • The Council will have the option to purchase the freehold of the leased homes for £1 at the end of the leases, thus making it possible for the Council to continue to meet the needs of the community;
     
  • The Council will not be involved in the stadium construction work but a legal framework will ensure that the new stadium is delivered at Fossetts Farm before Roots Hall shut shop; and
     
  • The Council has been represented by Chicago (US)-headquartered commercial real estate service firm Cushman & Wakefield through the negotiations process.
     

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