New Blues stadium moves another step closer

Southend United’s long-awaited new stadium has cleared one of its final major hurdles – but don’t expect spades in the ground just yet.

Plans for a 21,000 capacity ground at Fossetts Farm have been decades in the making, and the Secretary of State Michael Gove has now confirmed he will not call in the plans.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible environment, culture, tourism and planning, said the news was a vital step, whilst stressing there was still some way to go.

She said: “The legal agreements are to be concluded. Permission won’t be issued until that is finalised.

“They will have to submit detailed planning applications for certain aspects of the scheme so we shouldn’t expect spades in the ground just yet but it is good news.

It’s been a long time coming.”

The state-of-the-art stadium, off Eastern Avenue, is expected to bring £500 million to the town and create more than 1,000 new jobs.

The site would eventually have 1,461 homes, plus a 107-bedroom hotel, along with a club shop, restaurant and conference space.

Its phased development also includes plans to build 502 homes at the club’s current home at Roots Hall, once the new stadium is ready.

Lawyers are ironing out the final details of the scheme but there should be little to stop work proceeding now.

James Schooley, 33, has been a Blues fan for 26 years. He said: “I’m very happy to hear this news. I was aware of it being in the last haul and I’m hoping it will be all systems go now.

“It would be nice for the club to be forthcoming about where we are going from here and when they are going to be starting on the site.

“It’s great to hear but fans would like to see progress towards beginning on the site. I believe the schedule was for work to start in winter 2021/22 so we will see – but it’s good news.”

Cllr Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative group at Southend Council, had reservations.

He said: “In terms of the football club and the stadium I don’t have any issues. There are issues about how it is going to financed though.

There are serious concerns over that and also about how the people who would get access to the homes.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter