Agreement has been reached between Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Citizen Housing LLP and Southend United Football Club, enabling the redevelopment of Roots Hall for 502 new homes for rent, and the delivery of a new stadium at Fossetts Farm - with new homes replacing the proposed out-of-town retail development.
The stadium at Fossetts Farm will be enabled by around 800 homes for rent through the agreement with the Council, and potentially hundreds more homes through a separate joint venture between Citizen Housing LLP and a third party. There will also be other facilities such as a health centre, convenience store and a community hub at Fossetts Farm.
All the housing delivered with the Council will be for rent including 30% at affordable rent levels. The agreement will also secure an important long-term income for the Council.
Plans for both of the Roots Hall and Fossetts Farm sites are subject to the planning process.
The proposals have the provisional backing of Homes England in the form of a significant investment loan to finance infrastructure and fund the stadium construction on the basis that a substantial quantity of new housing will be built. It is proposed that the first phase of the new stadium will comprise 14,000 seats.
The revised plans will remove the threat of major out-of-town competition to the town centre. This change will provide a confidence boost for businesses, landlords and investors in the town centre and on the High Street in particular.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “This is really very significant news for all of us. I am very pleased that despite the current difficult circumstances we have been able to move this forward.
“The Council has been working closely with the football club over an extended period to move this project forwards and I am pleased to see that we have got to this stage, which would not only see much needed new homes built, but also take away the threat to the town centre from the previously proposed retail element.
“We need to build more homes as a Borough, we want more affordable rented homes, we need to generate more income into the council to fund local services and we are seeing more than ever how essential these services are. We have always recognised the importance of the football club to the Borough and we now have the opportunity to enable them to deliver their new stadium and secure the Club’s future. So this is a win-win situation.”
“I therefore look forward to moving ahead with this and working with the football club on these exciting and transformational plans.”
Citizen Housing specialises in partnering with both the public sector and landowners to deliver housing-led regeneration schemes. Citizen’s development model is strongly focussed on the delivery of much needed affordable housing.
Jack Martin, spokesman for Citizen Housing said: “This major public-private partnership will deliver high quality, sustainable housing that will cater for the needs of the local community. Under the proposed plans, the partnership will deliver c.400 new affordable homes on the two sites. These will be available for rent at truly affordable levels along with many homes for private rent. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Homes England, to bring these two exciting projects to fruition.”
The Chairman of SUFC, Ron Martin, said: “We listened to the Council’s concerns, in particular, the impact of the proposed enabling retail development on the town centre. The collaborative approach achieved with the Council, together with our other partners, will deliver a project that I believe the people of Southend-on-Sea will be very proud of. We are delighted for all our supporters that this agreement will unlock the delivery of Southend United’s new home, enabling the Club to fulfil its long held potential.”
The proposed arrangement has been signed by all four Group Leaders, as part of governance arrangements put in place to ensure that key council business can continue through the Coronavirus outbreak and whilst the council awaits further legislation from Government to allow virtual meetings. Cabinet will consider the matter further before the agreements are completed but the next stage of work can now progress.
Summary of the proposed arrangements
In outline the arrangements with Citizen are as follows:
- Southend United Football Club seek planning permission for both developments.
- If planning permission is granted, Citizen Housing LLP will facilitate the funding and construction of both sites. The Council will not be required to invest any capital in the development of either site but its covenant strength enables the financing of the transactions.
- The Council will be granted long leases over the 502 homes at Roots Hall and the c.800 new homes constructed at Fossetts Farm.
- The rent payable by the Council will be set at a substantially discounted level to open market rents therefore enabling the Council to benefit from a long-term sustainable income stream from the completed units.
- The Council will facilitate the management of the leased homes and will sublet the individual units to residential tenants, 30% at affordable rents and the balance at market rents.
- The Council will have the option to purchase the freehold of the leased homes for £1 at the end of the leases, enabling the Council to continue to meet the needs of the community.
- The Council will not be involved in the stadium construction but a legal framework will ensure that the new stadium is delivered at Fossetts Farm before Roots Hall can close.
- The Council has been represented by Cushman & Wakefield through the negotiations.