The Council’s cabinet will get an update on the excellent progress being made on plans to redevelop Roots Hall and to develop a new stadium and housing at Fossetts Farm (Cabinet, 24 November).
An agreement and proposed transactions between Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Citizen Housing LLP and Southend United Football Club that will enable the project to go ahead are being recommended for approval - subject to independent financial review, a review by the council’s external auditors, further legal advice, and councillors agreeing to grant access over land at Jones Memorial Ground (for which the council is trustee) to provide access for supporters on match days.
The project will see a new stadium delivered at Fossetts Farm alongside a new rental community comprising 850 homes under an agreement with the Council. Further homes will be developed under separate agreements with other parties.
The residential development at Fossetts will include uses that will benefit the new community, such as convenience store, café and co-working space.
Roots Hall will be redeveloped into 502 new homes for rent, again under an agreement with the Council, once the football club has relocated to the new stadium at Fossetts Farm.
All the housing delivered with the Council would be for rent including 30% at affordable rent at or below Local Housing Allowance levels. The agreement would 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.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “I am very pleased that such good progress has been made on this landmark agreement since April and it is being recommended that detailed negotiations are completed subject to final due diligence, which we expect to be completed before full Council at the start of December.
“The Council has worked closely with the football club and its partners over an extended period to move this project forwards and I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work on this so far. Subject to the planning process, this project would not only see much needed new homes built, but also enable the new stadium to be built for the football club along with the threat to the town centre from the previously proposed retail element taken away.
“We need to build more homes as a Borough, and we want more affordable rented homes that meet the needs of local people. As we look to the future and recovery from COVID-19, this sort of investment is vital and will be a big boost to the local economy, create local jobs and boost confidence in Southend-on-Sea as a place that wants to move forwards. This will also generate an income stream to the council which we can reinvest in vital local services.
“We also want to see a new football stadium and have always recognised the importance of the football club to the Borough. We are therefore pleased to be a big part in enabling them to deliver their new stadium and to help secure the Club’s future. This is a win-win situation and excellent news for the Borough.”
Citizen Housing LLP specialises in partnering with both the public sector and landowners to deliver housing-led regeneration schemes. Jack Martin, spokesman for Citizen Housing LLP said: “We at Citizen Housing LLP are delighted with the progress that has been achieved since April. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to bring these exciting developments to fruition.”
Southend United Football Club Chairman, Ron Martin commented: “This is the culmination of a great deal of good work over 7 months by the Council, the Club and its partners. This announcement represents a beacon of light to guide the Club’s future prosperity off the pitch enabling its success on the pitch. Life has been tough, over the past 2 years, for the club’s supporters. Hopefully this will add some cheer in knowing we can build a secure long term future and together, with a little more work from us all, continue the re-building on the pitch ASAP.”
Summary of the proposed arrangements
In outline the arrangements 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 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.850 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. It is possible that South Essex Homes and South Essex Property Services could provide this management service for the Council, but the position on management has not yet been concluded and does not need to be at this stage.
- The Council will have the option to purchase the freehold of the leased homes for £1 at the end of the various 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 existing stadium at Roots Hall remains operational until the new stadium is opened.