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Green light for Southend’s Populous-designed stadium

English National League football club Southend United’s plans for a new 21,000-capacity stadium have been approved by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

The council approved the application yesterday (Monday) during a development control committee meeting. The stadium, which has been designed by architecture firm Populous, will be located at the Fossetts Farm site and the plans will result in the creation of a whole new neighbourhood, with residential space to be incorporated into the venue itself.

As part of the plans, 1,114 new homes will be built, including 333 affordable homes for local residents. The project will also pave the way for the regeneration of Roots Hall, Southend’s current home stadium, which will be redeveloped to provide 502 new homes for rent.

Populous’ plans also incorporate a hotel and conference facility into the new stadium site, along with retail and commercial spaces, and football training facilities. Populous hopes the project will set a design precedent for a new development model by integrating an element of the residential accommodation within the stadium itself.

The North Stand of the stadium will see residential frontages combined with the venue’s conferencing and match-day hospitality spaces. The residential accommodation will also be set within a groundscraper on top of the stadium.

The stands will be fully covered and fully enclosed, while the stadium’s façade and roof will be broken down into shells separated by blue polycarbonate strips to reflect Southend’s heritage and badge with its shrimper’s motif. The shell-like forms that will be incorporated into the roof structure will extend beyond the front row of seating and provide fans with cover during adverse weather.

Populous noted that housing units in stadium-related development projects are usually independent buildings or free-standing corner buildings, but the proposal for Southend centres on the residential development sitting within the stadium itself.

The first phase of the development will involve the construction of the three-sided general admission parts of the new stadium and is projected to be delivered by 2023. The phase will also include Supporters Way, a tree-lined approach that will be used by the majority of supporters on match days and open into a large fan plaza.

The second phase of the project will complete principal parts of the development and overall masterplan, including the stadium’s North Stand, indoor football domes and residential buildings.

Mike Trice, senior principal at Populous, said: “With the council’s support of this application, we now have a clear path to the delivery of the club’s long-held ambition for a new stadium. We now look forward to delivering Southend United’s vision to integrate homes, business, leisure and sport together under one roof. This will prove to be a vibrant and active development and will deliver the very best new home for the fans and the club.”

According to the Southend Echo newspaper, Homes England will loan Roots Hall Limited the £30m (€35.7m/$41.5m) sum required for the project by November 30. Roots Hall Limited would then lease the stadium to the club once the project is completed.

Southend was relegated from the English Football League (EFL) last season and currently sits 21st in the National League. Southend has played at Roots Hall since the 12,392-capacity stadium opened in 1955.

Images: Populous