Southend United: Fossetts Farm stadium plans on 'knife edge'

Artists' impression of new stadium Southend United hope to move to a 22,000-seat stadium at Fossetts Farm

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Plans for a new Southend United stadium are on a "knife edge" over payments to regenerate the town centre, the club and partner Sainsbury's have warned.

The club has planning permission for a 22,000-seat stadium at Fossetts Farm.

If the scheme goes ahead, Sainsbury's plans to build a supermarket on the site of its current Roots Hall ground.

But in a letter to Southend Council the partners said that a £6m donation towards the town centre was no longer viable and have offered £3.5m instead.

The League Two club originally agreed to make the payment as part of planning conditions, but the sum has been at the centre of a dispute which has delayed work on the scheme.

The club attempted to scrap the payment, but later offered £2.25m.

'Entirely different world'

Now the offer has been increased to £3.5m, with the club and supermarket warning that a greater amount would "fatally undermine" the scheme.

Start Quote

Put simply, there is no longer £6m available to put towards the regeneration of the town centre”

End Quote Southend United and Sainsbury's

In a letter to Southend Council, club chairman Ron Martin and Sainsbury's development surveyor Robert Oxley said that both parties were still committed to the scheme.

But they added: "At present, the viability is on a knife edge. To be deliverable, the whole package must be financially viable.

"The scheme was conceived in an entirely different world when the offer of £6m was made in 2007 and we, along with many others, could not have foreseen the financial landscape of today."

The letter said the economic downturn had put the viability of the Fossetts Farm and Roots Hall schemes in jeopardy, adding: "Put simply, there is no longer £6m available to put towards the regeneration of the town centre."

The club and supermarket said they could make an initial payment of £500,000 when work begins on a planned retail park at Fossetts Farm.

The final instalment of £1m, bringing the total to £3.5m, would be paid when a hotel planned as part of the scheme opens.

Southend Council's development control committee is due to consider the offer at its meeting on 10 April.

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