Southend United stadium plans delayed again – but council refuses to say for how long

A decision on whether to grant Southend United planning permission for a new stadium has been delayed again, but the council has refused to say for how long.

The club wants to build a 21,000-seat stadium and entertainment complex, but despite submitting plans to the council two years ago, a decision has still not been made on whether the project can go ahead.

In April, club chairman Ron Martin agreed to the council’s request for a six-month extension to look over the plans – giving them until September 30.

But the council has now confirmed they will fail to meet that deadline and have agreed with Mr Martin to even more time.

When they were asked how long the new extension would be, the council said that this information is “between the applicant and ourselves”.

They have also failed to publish a formal extension of time agreement within the planning documents, despite all previous agreements being published publicly.

A council spokesperson said: “The extension of time to consider the application by Southend United Football Club was a mutual arrangement between the council and the club.

“As the local planning authority, we will continue to engage with the applicant as we have done from the submission of the proposal and will take it forward to a Development Control Committee at the earliest opportunity.”

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

The planning application was initially submitted to the council in April 2017 and the council had until September of that year to determine whether it should go ahead.

Since then the council has requested several extensions, with the most request taking it from a December 2018 deadline to March 31 and from April 1 to September 30.

The council has defended the delays on several occasions, pointing out that intensive work is needed due to the scale of the project. They have also said that the delays are not entirely on the council’s side, as the club has also been making amendments to ensure the plans are granted permission.

Last month, the football club launched consultation events for plans to build 504 new homes on the current stadium site at Roots Hall once the club has moved to the Fossetts Farm site. An application for full planning permission will be submitted to the council once the responses have been analysed.

Ron Martin and the Southend Supporter’s Association were contacted for comment.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter