Spectator stand could be built around Southchurch football pitch despite opposition from residents

A spectator stand could be built at the all-weather pitch in Southchurch Park, despite opposition from neighbours.

Under the plans, which could be approved next week, the stand for 120 people would be built next to the pitch on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Planning documents reveal it would be built for Southend Manor Football Club to provide “covered spectator viewing” – which is a new Football Association requirement.

If the club does not build the stand, it could impact on its league status, earnings and future.

The plan has been met with opposition from residents who fear an increase in noise and littering, however, council planning officers have recommended permission is granted when it is discussed at a Development Control Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Independent councillor Ron Woodley, who represents the Thorpe Bay ward, said: “I welcome this personally. It is good for the park and it is bringing it up to Football Association standards and requirements.

“I think it is great for the local area and the local young people.”

Council officers said in a report: “The proposal would have an acceptable impact on the amenities of neighbouring occupiers and users of the park and the character and appearance of the application site, street scene and the locality more widely.

“There would be no materially adverse traffic, parking or highways impacts caused by the proposed development.

“The proposal would improve sport and recreation facilities and provide for health and leisure outcomes, which would outweigh the modest impact on protected open space.”

While the council received just three official objections, planning officers have said critics of the plan claim to have also collected 240 signatures in an online petition yet this was not officially handed to the council.

The concerns centre around the noise impact from spectators, an increase in traffic, littering and that the proposal “caters for a minority interest”.

There are also calls for the council to hold a consultation with residents before going ahead.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter