Southend United stadium clears major hurdle

English National League football club Southend United’s plan for a new 21,000-capacity stadium has cleared one of the last remaining major hurdles before construction can commence with the news Secretary of State Michael Gove will not call in the scheme.

The latest news for the project comes after it was approved by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in October. 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.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said the news the project would not be called in was significant, while stressing that hurdles still remain. “The legal agreements are to be concluded,” she said, according to the Echo newspaper. “Permission won’t be issued until that is finalised.

 “They will have to submit detailed planning applications for certain aspects of the scheme so we shouldn’t expect spades in the ground just yet but it is good news. It’s been a long time coming.”

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative group at Southend Council, added: “In terms of the football club and the stadium I don’t have any issues.

“There are issues about how it is going to financed though. There are serious concerns over that and also about how the people who would get access to the homes.”

Southend was relegated from the English Football League (EFL) last season and currently sits 18th in the National League. Southend has played at Roots Hall since the 12,392-capacity stadium opened in 1955.

Image: Populous