Plans unveiled for more than 500 homes on Roots Hall

Ambitious plans to demolish Southend United’s Roots Hall stadium and replace it with hundreds of new homes have been unveiled.

The planning application submitted to Southend Council proposes building 502 new homes on the site by 2025 by which time the football club is expected to have moved to a new 21,000 seat stadium at Fossetts Farm.

The new homes will largely be spread across nine buildings which will be up to eight storeys high but several two storey houses will also be included. They will also all be served with a single parking space as well as having access to cycle storage.

Of the 502 properties, there will be 151 ‘affordable’ homes.

Planning documents describe how the ambitious development will come together over two phases, starting in Spring 2020. Phase one will include the construction of five buildings close to Victoria Avenue and ranging between seven storeys and three storeys, with the aim for them to be completed by winter 2021.

This will be followed by phase two starting in winter 2021. This phase will be when the football stadium is demolished and the remaining buildings are constructed with a winter 2025 completion date.

One challenge for the club during the construction period is expected to be parking. It is noted that when construction begins in phase one, the stadium will still be in use and as a result some spectators are expected to be directed to park at Southend Council offices, however a more detailed parking plan will be drawn up before development begins.

The documents go on to describe the planned development as a “financial component” that will allow for the development of the Fossetts Farm stadium and while phase one can begin before the club moves to the proposed stadium, phase two cannot take place until after.

They add the loss of the stadium is “more than compensated by the delivery of a larger, modern stadium at Fossetts Farm” and the plans help deliver one of the council’s “greatest needs” – more affordable housing.

It was revealed in September that Southend Council could enter into a deal with the developer to become the leaseholder of the development. In the short-term this could come at a significant cost to the authority but it would help fund the construction of the homes and lead to long-term benefits, including allowing the council to retain all income earned through the properties rented at the site.

The council is exploring this option and whether it would be viable but have made no formal commitment.

Southend United’s club chairman Ron Martin was contacted to comment on the housing plans.

Long-delayed stadium plans

The redevelopment of Roots Hall is a major part in Southend United’s plan to build a major new stadium at Fossetts Farm, with planning documents calling it “integral” to the funding.

Plans for the new stadium were submitted to the council more than two years ago but have faced several delays and are yet to be given planning permission.

The most recent set back came in September when the club and the council agreed to another six months of discussions, giving the council until March next year to make a decision.

A joint statement between the council and club chairman Ron Martin, stated the delay was due to the application being “the single largest and most complex planning application” for a number of years, with the plans set to have a “profound” impact on the borough.

The discussions are expected to focus on the financial contributions made to the town if permission is granted.

Southend Council declined to comment on when the plans will go before the development committee.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter