Memorial Ground providing access to Southend United stadium still in council hands

Council bosses have denied claims they have sold off land gifted it to residents in order to push through plans for Southend United’s new stadium.

Shoebury Residents’ Association has called for greater protection of parks and open areas in Southend amid claims land at Jones Memorial Ground and Cecil Jones playing fields had been sold off.

The association claims the sale of the land has been approved to improve access to a planned 17,000 seater stadium at Fossetts Farm.

Vice chairman Peter Lovett, said: “I’m just concerned about them using bits of parks.

“We’re slowly losing land to these big developments.

“We’ve had discussions about Shoebury Park and Friars Park and years ago we even had discussions about the Shoebury Common North, which is why I pushed for the playground to go on there.

“We’re trying to protect land that’s been given to the residents like Cecil Jones. I just feel the council is snipping away at little bits of land without telling anybody.

“I want to make it clear we need to protect our green spaces.”

Southend Council insists the land in question remains in its ownership, but it has allowed the developer of the new stadium to use the site without buying it – an arrangement known as easement.

The use of the land for the football stadium, granted “in perpetuity”, was agreed by Southend Council in 2020.

It saw a one-off payment of £135,000 made to the Cecil Jones Memorial Trust, which manages the site.

The land, an underused access into Jones Memorial Ground, is required to provide access for supporters on match days.

It will also provide access to a residential development which will be leased to the council, and to Jones Memorial Ground itself.

A spokeswoman said: “We have not sold off the land in Jones Memorial.

“Jones Memorial ground is an easement that has been granted to enable a pedestrian and cycle route to be constructed, but we have not sold off the land.

“The easement strip does not impact on the use of the land as playing areas and will enable an income to be generated for the Cecil Jones Memorial Trust which will assist its sustainability.”

Work has already begun on a new training ground at Fossetts Farm, with a new stadium and 224 homes also set to be built.

Advertisement

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter