‘The Blues’ new venue might get green light


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

A time frame has been laid out for the development of English League Two football club Southend United’s new stadium, with work targeted to resume in the summer of 2021. The long-delayed £25million ‘The Blues’ Stadium could begin construction by 2021 and be finished in less than three years. The completion date is scheduled for Spring 2024.

That revised planning application is yet to be submitted to the council but ‘Blues’ boss Ron Martin expressed confidence in the new timetable.

Southend United Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England. As of the 2020-21 seasons, the team competes in League Two, the fourth tier of English football.

Media reports citing new planning documents, said the long-delayed £25m (€27.7m/$33.1m) stadium project could be completed by Spring 2024, if planning permission is greenlighted.

Southend United F.C. Fossetts Farm Stadium is the provisional name for a stadium proposed to be built in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England as a new home for Southend United F.C. to replace Roots Hall Stadium which is the present residence of ‘The Shrimpers’.

A planning application for Fossetts Farm Stadium has been with Southend Council for over three years, but deputy leader, Councillor Ron Woodley, said there will be “no more holding back”.

He added, “This is too near to the mark to have another delay. A lot of work has been done by officers and I think because of that it is basically there.”

In April, United tasted success in its long-running efforts to secure a new stadium with a deal being struck that will see affordable housing come up in lieu of the proposed commercial development.

An agreement was reached between United; Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Citizen Housing, a housing and regeneration focused investor that excels in public-private partnerships (PPPs); facilitating the repurposing of the club’s existing Roots Hall home for 502 new homes for rent, and the delivery of a new stadium at Fossetts Farm. The new homes replace a proposed out-of-town retail development.

In October 2018, revised plans were unlocked for the Fossetts Farm multiuse development, which at the time was due to be anchored by a new 21,000-seat stadium. Those plans cut the amount of restaurant space at the site, while giving more elbow room for leisure facilities to the equivalent of about 10 tennis courts.

Along with the stadium, the Fossetts Farm site was set to include five residential buildings, a Hilton hotel, shops, restaurants, a cinema and four full-sized grass football pitches. Plans were initially submitted to the council in April 2017, with feedback from a prior consultation leading to the revised proposal submitted by the surveyor and town planner practice Powerhaus Consultancy.

Under the new pact, the stadium at Fossetts Farm will be enabled by around 800 homes for rent through the agreement with the Council, and potentially hundreds more homes through a separate joint venture between Citizen Housing and a third party. There will also be other facilities such as a health center, convenience store and a community hub at Fossetts Farm. All the housing delivered with the Council will be for rent including 30 percent at affordable rent levels.

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

Southend has played at Roots Hall since the stadium which can accommodate 12,392 spectators opened in 1955.

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