Southend United sale a step closer after 500 homes plan agreed

Southend FC
The Conservative-run council had warned if the plan was not agreed, it could put the sale at risk

Councillors have helped pave the way for the long-awaited sale of Southend United after agreeing to shift where hundreds of new homes will be built.

Southend-on-Sea City Council's cabinet approved a report recommending 500 homes be built out of town instead of at Roots Hall stadium.

A total 1,300 homes are now earmarked for the site at Fossetts Farm.

Club owner Ron Martin is in the process of selling to Australian IT millionaire Justin Rees.

The Conservative-run council had warned if the plan was not agreed on Thursday, it could put the club sale at risk.

The decision also paves the way for the potential redevelopment of the current stadium.

Southend FC
Council leader Tony Cox said the sale of the club would be a "landmark day"

Property developer Mr Martin had once hoped to build a 21,000-seater stadium for the club at Fossetts Farm, as well as hundreds of homes.

But now all land at Roots Hall will be transferred to Mr Rees's consortium. The deal is said to be undergoing due diligence.

During the meeting on Thursday, Tory leader Tony Cox said the sale of the club wwould be a "landmark day".

"I think we were all in danger of not just seeing the demise of the club, but also much-needed housing that had been promised over a period of time as well," Mr Cox said.

"I am hopeful the next phase of this will go well and we will come back with something which we can all agree on, move forward and allow the club to have a successful and sustainable future."

Council-owned land at 291-297 Victoria Avenue, a piece of waste land adjacent to Roots Hall, is now expected to be sold on the open market.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal Ward, said: "This is one of the last steps to getting the club sold and to ending this particularly miserable chapter."

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