The driving force behind the new, long-awaited Southend United football stadium can finally be revealed.
It’s a partnership between Jack Martin – the son of club chairman Ron, and one of the biggest real estate investment groups in the country – Allied Commercial Exporters, a company founded by real estate giant Jack Dellal.
The little-known Citizen Housing is also a key partner in the eagerly-anticipated, landmark deal with Southend Council and Southend United.
Together, they will endeavour to deliver the planned state-of-the-art football stadium – and more than 1,300 new homes.
But since the announcement of the deal, there has been uncertainty over the identity of the housing company and its connections with club chairman Ron Martin.
Under the deal, Citizen Housing will be responsible for delivering about 500 homes on the former stadium site at Roots Hall – and a further 800 on land surrounding the new stadium on Fossetts Farm.
The increased number of homes in the deal means that several leisure elements, including plans for a cinema and shops, have now been dropped from the proposals.
The company will then own the freehold of the homes, while the council will take on a long-term lease in both developments.
This means the council will be provided with an ongoing source of income, through housing rent.
Despite his son’s involvement in Citizen Housing, when the Local Democracy Reporting Service questioned Mr Martin about the people behind Citizen Housing, he claimed it was in fact “a separate corporate entity in which I or the club have no interest”.
But it later emerged the company is a joint venture, with 50 per cent being owned by Allied Commercial Exporters, a company founded by real estate giant Jack Dellal, and 50 per cent being owned by Mr Martin’s son Jack.
The Blues chief then clarified he meant he has “nothing to do corporately with Citizen”.
A spokesman for Southend Council said both Ron and Jack Martin are connected to the companies involved with the deal.
“Ron Martin and Jack Martin are father and son and have common interests in multiple companies, some of which are involved in the transactions,” said the spokesman.
“The principles of Citizen have collective real estate experience spanning many decades across residential and commercial sectors and have financed, structured and developed real estate transactions with a combined value of over £3.8billion.
“In 2018, Citizen made its initial investment into the regeneration of Roots Hall and Fossetts Farm by funding the recapitalisation of Roots Hall Limited, a corporate entity that owns Roots Hall.”
Ron Martin is a co-director of Roots Hall Limited with his son Jack.
Conservative leader, Councillor Tony Cox insisted he has faith in the council to do business that’s best for the borough.
He said: “It is never helpful to have mixed messages on any financial deal coming through.
“I would hope and trust that the administration when preparing this deal ensured that it financially stacked up and due diligence was undertaken.”
The deputy leader of the party, Meg Davidson, added that it was important the council had done its due diligence.
Before the new stadium and housing can move forward the club will be expected to submit a planning application.
This will be considered by members of the development control committee based on planning regulations.
If planning permission is granted, the way will finally be paved for Citizen Housing to arrange the funding and construction of both the housing sites.
Southend Council will not be required to invest any capital in the development of either site.
Meanwhile, the stadium, near Waitrose in Southend, is due to be funded using a loan from Homes England, which has been provided on the guarantee that the borough will see a boost in housing as a result of the deal finally going through.