A timetable has been laid out for the development of English League Two football club Southend United’s new stadium, with work targeted to commence in the summer of 2021.

The Southend Standard newspaper, 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 granted.

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 scored a major breakthrough in its long-running efforts to secure a new stadium with a deal being reached that will replace proposed commercial development at the site with affordable housing.

An agreement was reached between United; Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Citizen Housing, a housing and regeneration focused investor that specialises in public-private partnerships; enabling the redevelopment 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 revealed for the Fossetts Farm multi-purpose 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 increasing the area for leisure facilities by 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 Powerhaus Consultancy.

Under the new agreement, 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 centre, convenience store and a community hub at Fossetts Farm. All the housing delivered with the Council will be for rent including 30% 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 12,392-capacity stadium opened in 1955.

Image: Southend United