Council documents reveal plans for Southend United stadium given more time to be discussed

A decision on Southend United’s new stadium has gone into extra time with the club and Southend Council agreeing to another six months of discussions.

New planning documents revealed Southend Council has asked Southend United for another six months to scrutinise plans for their new 21,000-seat stadium.

The extra time has been agreed by both parties.

It is the fourth time the application to build the stadium and entertainment complex on Fossetts Farm, off Eastern Avenue, has been pushed back since plans were first submitted in May 2017.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed the stadium decision was still being discussed last month but at the time the council had refused to reveal how long the delay would be, stating that information is “between the applicant and ourselves” despite the huge public interest and impact on residents.

Now it can be revealed the period requested is six months with a decision now due sometime before March 2020.

A joint statement from Cllr Carole Mulroney, who oversees planning at the council, and club chairman Ron Martin states: “The application for a new football stadium and associated facilities is the single largest and most complex planning application in the town for a number of years.

“Its impact on the borough as a whole could be quite profound, so it needs very careful consideration.

“It is in the interests of both the council and the football club that the planning application is as robust and thorough as it can be so that the Development Control committee can make an informed decision and ensure it benefits the town as a whole.

“For this reason, we have mutually agreed to allow extra time for work to be carried out on the application and we will continue to work closely together during this period to resolve any outstanding planning issues.”

The council’s extension of time letter explains the delay is because there needs to be an “assessment of information” and for the completion of section 106 agreement, which will require the developer to make financial contributions to help with infrastructure improvements.

It adds: “Notwithstanding this request, should the council be in a position to issue a decision in relation to the application before March 31 2020, I confirm that it will do so.”

The proposed multi-million-pound development includes a 21,000-seat stadium, as well as five residential buildings, shops, restaurants, a cinema and four full sized grass football pitches.

If planning permission is granted it will clear the way for a major new housing development on land currently occupied by the club at Roots Hall.

The council announced last month it is exploring a deal that would see the authority paying a large sum to developer Citizen Housing in exchange for the lease of the 500-home development.

They would then take on a management role and retain income earned through properties rented at the site. Furthermore, once the leasehold term ends, the council could gain full ownership of the development, and all future income.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter