New Fossetts homes could see cash boost for Roots Hall improvements

Plans for more than 1,300 homes, which could see £20million released to the new owners of Southend United to improve Roots Hall, will be decided at crunch meetings next week.

Special policy and resources committee and cabinet meetings will be held on Wednesday and Thursday respectively to discuss the final details of the new homes at Fossetts Farm off Eastern Avenue, which are closely linked with the sale of the club.

It comes amid the final negotiations with a consortium led by Australian businessman Justin Rees to buy the club from chairman Ron Martin.

The consortium intends to renovate Roots Hall in Victoria Avenue and hundreds of homes planned to replace the stadium will instead be built at Fossetts Farm. However, the Echo understands that the money will not be released to the consortium until planning permission is agreed for the new homes and the development of Fossetts Farm begins.

The land at Fossetts Farm will be entirely turned over to new homes under the deal, including 911 flats and 400 houses.

The finance from the homes will enable Mr Martin to deliver a promised £20million to the club to help the Roots Hall revamp.

Tony Cox, leader of the council, said: “We will be discussing broadly what we can do with Fossetts. There’s still one or two things to iron out with Ron, that’s why we’ve had to leave it to allow the due diligence to go through.

“We are on the right trajectory. This is the cabinet paper that we said we’d bring to enable and help facilitate the sale of the football club.”

Cllr Cox added: “We’re in a position where we’re hopeful, I don’t want to be in a position where I have to cancel it but it’s our commitment to put that in the diary. I’m still confident that it will happen.”

The homes are expected to be leased to the council which will then rent them out with an option to buy them for a nominal sum in the future.

Once details of the Fossetts development are agreed, a new planning application will be submitted. It is likely to be decided relatively quickly with much of the ground work already done under the previous Fossetts stadium and homes plans.

The sale of the club hit a snag when creditors asked for a winding-up petition against the club to take place on April 17. They have subsequently agreed to delay the petition ahead a new proposed sale date of May 15.

Mr Martin is 99 per cent sure the sale will go through by mid-May.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter