Fossetts Farm hotel plan axed for more new homes

Plans to build a hotel at Southend United’s long-awaited new stadium have been axed, with additional homes set to be built instead.

The club is now proposing to build an additional 42 homes in place of the hotel, taking the total of number of properties planned for the Fossetts Farm project to 224.

Despite initially being confident of signing a deal with a big name hotel, the club has been unable to get an operator to join the major plans.

Changes announced in a revised planning application submitted to Southend Council also outline proposals to lower the capacity of the stadium to 16,226.

It comes just months after the club announced a previous reduction in capacity for the stadium, down from 21,000 to 17,000.

Ian Gilbert, councillor responsible for economic recovery, regeneration and housing gave a cautious welcome to the new homes.

He said: “It’s good news as long as the infrastructure is there. This has been talked about for a long time. My understanding is that the planning and funding is done and everything is pretty much aligned so we should see some progress soon.”

A report to planners by the club said: “The club has re-examined its requirements for the capacity of a new stadium, given its location in south Essex and fan base and now needs to downsize the stadium to 16,226 seats.

“In addition, an occupier has not been secured for the stadium north stand hotel, so the north stand will no longer include a hotel. It will continue to accommodate match day corporate facilities, a ballroom, club offices and boardroom.”

The club concluded: “The amendments will enable the long planned for stadium to progress in accordance with the scale of the stadium the club sees as befitting its location within the city and wider south Essex area. There are clear planning benefits arising from the scheme.

“As such planning permission should be granted without delay.”

The first phase of the Fossetts Farm scheme is already underway, with new training pitches being installed and ready for use by the winter.

Work will then begin on the east, west and south stands of the stadium, with construction set to finish in 2024. The 224 new homes are expected to be built by 2028, according to the plans.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture and tourism, said: “I would imagine because of these changes it will have to go to development control. It already got a lot of housing but we need housing.

“If it goes to development control and it is granted it doesn’t negate the previous permission. According to planning law one doesn’t cancel the other out. It maybe that in 18 months time they will have started building and the market might have picked up but once they implement one plan they have to stick with it.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter