Southend United F.C.’s plans for a new 21,000-capacity stadium designed by Populous have been approved by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.
The planning approval unlocks the club’s long-held ambition to relocate to a new purpose-built stadium at Fossetts Farm in Southend-on-Sea, which will provide the improved capacity and calibre of player and spectator facilities required for Southend United F.C. to usher in a new era of success, both on and off the pitch.
The stadium is designed to be the catalyst for the creation of a whole new neighbourhood in Southend-on-Sea, with 1,114 new homes to be built as part of the Fossetts Farm development, including 333 affordable homes for local residents. The move will also pave the way for the regeneration of Roots Hall, Southend United F.C.’s existing but outdated stadium, which will be redeveloped to provide 502 new homes for rent.
Populous’ designs fulfil Southend United F.C.’s ambition to create a mixed-use stadium development and will deliver a range of assets generating economic activity throughout the week. A hotel and conference facility and mixture of retail and commercial spaces will sustain the residential development and promote continuous use of the stadium. Football training facilities will further encourage footfall and activity within the area.
By integrating an element of the residential accommodation within the stadium itself, the project sets a design precedent for a new development model. The North Stand will see the residential frontages combined with the stadium’s conferencing and matchday hospitality spaces. The residential accommodation will be set within a groundscraper atop the stadium.
The stadium architecture wraps 360 degrees around the building below. The stands will be fully covered and fully enclosed, providing enhanced levels of comfort and enclosure for the fans. Populous’ approach to the stadium with the façade and roof broken down into shells separated by blue polycarbonate strips, reflects the club’s heritage and badge with its shrimper’s motif. The shell-like forms incorporated into roof structure extend beyond the front row of seating, providing spectators with cover and protection from the elements, while the design will also direct the roar of the crowd onto the pitch – creating a cauldron of noise and an intense matchday atmosphere.
In stadium-related residential development, the units are typically housed in independent buildings or free-standing corner buildings. However, the proposal for Southend F.C. allows the residential development to sit within the stadium itself, while allowing the scale of the stadium to remain intimate, compact and enclosed.
Phase one of the development, which is projected to be delivered by 2023, will involve the construction of the three-sided general admission parts of the new stadium, as well as Supporters Way – a tree-lined approach that will be used by the majority of fans on match days. Supporters Way opens into a large fan plaza, providing generous open space for people to meet and gather outside the stadium on both match days and non-match days, with a large video board acting as a focal point. The fan plaza will also be enlivened by the presence of the club shop, café and ticket office, which project into the plaza from the South Stand.
The second phase of the project will complete principal parts of the development and overall masterplan, including the stadium’s North Stand, indoor football domes and residential buildings.
Mike Trice, Senior Principal at Populous, said: With the council’s support of this application, we now have a clear path to the delivery of the club’s long-held ambition for a new stadium. We now look forward to delivering Southend United’s vision to integrate homes, business, leisure and sport together under one roof. This will prove to be a vibrant and active development and will deliver the very best new home for the fans and the club”.