Plans for a new 22,000 capacity Southend United stadium are finally set to be heard.
On October 25, Southend’s development control committee will review the massive application which includes 1,450 homes, more than four years after initial plans were first submitted.
With feelings running high over the club’s recent performance, extra security will be put in place at the Civic Centre council chamber where the application will be heard.
The council is still operating social distancing rules so seating in the public gallery will be minimal. As a consequence, the council is likely to open a forum area outside the council chamber where people will be able to hear councillors’ discussions. The meeting will also be webcast.
Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for Environment, Culture, Tourism & Planning, said the council was expecting a large turnout. She said: “The council chamber is the biggest space we have got. The public gallery runs around the top but if we get inundated with people there will be difficulties.
“Outside the council chamber there is an open area with a sound system from the chamber. In normal circumstances planning applications bore everyone to death but this is such a big one for the town.”
The council is hoping those attending will act appropriately and no banners or demonstrations will be allowed within the civic centre.
Cllr Mulroney added: “People are disgruntled about how the club is doing at the moment but I would hope that doesn’t cause problems. The process has to go through committee and we can’t defer it because we have a crowd of angry people.
“This has been going on for such a long time and dividing the town for various reason. We’ve been waiting for years to find out what’s going to happen with Roots Hall and Fossetts but we’ve got to the stage where we can bring it to the committee thanks to negotiations which have been going on for some time. Everyone is quite relieved to get to this stage.”
The council will partner with developers to build 800 of the homes at the stadium which will be let for affordable rents.
The club’s current home at Roots Hall will be redeveloped into 502 new homes for rent, also under an agreement with the council, once the football club has relocated to the new stadium at Fossetts Farm.