The new access road that could solve concerns over Southend stadium traffic

The council is considering buying up land to create an access road that would help to reduce the congestion caused by the hundreds of new homes built to support Southend United’s new stadium, a leading councillor has claimed.

Southend Council announced last week they would be entering into an agreement with Southend United Football Club and investor Citizen Housing to deliver more than 1,300 new homes as part of the club’s move from Roots Hall to Fossetts Farm.

The homes will be divided, with 502 being built at Roots Hall following the demolition of the existing stadium and a further 800 being built around the new Fossetts Farm stadium.

The deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for transport, Councillor Ron Woodley, explained the project could bring a major change to roads in the area.

This could include the possible construction of an access road that would connect the Temple Farm Industrial Estate to Warner’s Bridge and on to Nestuda Way.

“Initial improvements will need to be made and that could be forming an inner ring road,” he said.

“It will run alongside Fossetts Farm, through over Sutton Road roundabout and continue through the industrial estate, skirt round rugby then on to Warners Bridge, from there you would be onto the main road where you can get to Eastwoodbury Lane and then over to Nestuda way.

“We would have to look at how we raise the funding for that but it could be part of the new planning application that is due to come forward. Once that is in we will seek the money and that would most likely come from Highways England.”

The councillor downplayed concerns about an existing congestion problem in the town, saying that it is only a problem during the summer months when people are visiting the seafront and amusements.

But that could change when the council builds around 26,000 homes over the next 20 years – a target which has been set by the government. Failure to achieve the target will mean Westminster could intervene and take control of planning decisions.

Cllr Woodley called the inner ring road a “short term fix” and said further down the line Southend could see a larger road which improves connections between the town and neighbouring Rochford and Castle Point.

“We need to say to the government that we need to have infrastructure to make these extra homes happen,” he continued.

“We cannot keep building home after home without infrastructure and that is where MPs should come in.

“Our MPs need to knock on doors and say to the powers that be in Westminster that Southend is willing to build these homes but we need money for the infrastructure.

“Personally, I think we need to get an outer ring road in place.

“I would build a brand-new hospital that supports Rochford, Castle Point and Southend – so it is the centre to those areas with the road infrastructure to take us to the hospital and beyond to join up with the A130 or A12.”

The suggestion of an access road to support the new stadium was welcomed by Councillor Kevin Buck (Con), who under the council’s previous administration also oversaw transport.

He said: “My concerns about the stadium have always been over transport and the accessibility of Fossetts Farm, given the only road access for people coming from out of town is either Sutton Road or Priory Crescent.

“There is no dual carriageway that services Fossetts Farm and it is not served by a rail link and would be poorly served by buses. This means the majority travelling there would be doing so by car.

“So I have real reservations about what will happen on a match day, a concert or when there is an event at the stadium. The way to address that is an inner ring road, which would certainly help.”

In early plans for the stadium, planning documents say that the flow of traffic would be improved with traffic signals on the Eastern Avenue and Sutton Road roundabout.

The documents further note that improvements need to be made to bus services on match-days and that rail operators Abellio and C2C were consulted during the planning stages and both companies confirmed they can handle additional passengers when needed.

The plans are set to be revised and submitted to the council in the coming months.

What is the plan for Fossetts Farm?

Under the plans revealed on April 2, Southend United secured its future by entering into an agreement with the council and Citizen Housing.

An initial cash injection will come from the Government’s Homes England, which has agreed to provide a loan to the club for building the stadium.

This has been given on the basis that the project will lead to a significant number of homes.

The agreement means the Fossetts Farm stadium plans will have 14,000 seats, down from the planned 21,000, though there is an ambition to increase the number eventually to 21,000.

Plans for shops, a cinema and restaurants have all been dropped and replaced with housing.

In total, Southend Council will manage more than 1,300 rented homes with 502 at Roots Hall, the current home of the club and another 800 in the area surrounding the new stadium at Fossetts Farm.

The council says about 30 per cent of the homes in both locations will be priced with “affordable” rent and there will also be space for a new health centre, convenience store and a community hub.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter