THREE tower blocks would be the focal point of the proposed Fossetts Farm development, providing three times the number of homes originally planned.

More details about the development, which would include Southend United’s new ground,have emerged in an economic impact assessment submitted to the council by the club and developer British Land.

The proposals show two 13-storey blocks as part of the stadium development, plus a third ten-storey block.

Between them, they would contain a total of 245 flats, more than tripling the 67 homes included in the club’s 2008 plan.

The new proposal would alsomake the stadium slightly smaller, holding 21,000 fans instead of 22,000.

Southend Council leader Ron Woodley, leader of Southend Council, has questioned the impact of such a development on the alreadybusy surrounding roads and the town centre.

He said: “It might need another public inquiry to look into the impact of the development on the town centre and infrastructure issues in the area.

“With all developments in the east of the borough, we need to look at the impact on infrastructure and highways.

“We’re not just talking about traffic going to the football stadium. There is the retail part and the residential aspect, too.

“The positive economic impact of the development would be quite substantial, but on the negative side, what would that do to the town centre?

“We may need to re-invent the role of the High Street.”

The 4,000 sq m of restaurants set out in the new development is nearly 15 times greater than the previously agreed plans, more space also earmarked for shops – 25,000 sq m instead of 16,4000 sq m.

The Echo reported last week Cineworld had already signed up to open a 12-screen multiplex on the site.

The development woudl offer nearly 1,600 parking spaces, with a further 830 available on match days. The aim of the revised plan is to make the development more financially viable for Blues chairman Ron Martin, with the smaller ground being better suited to the club’s needs.

However Blues fan Chris Bent said he felt it was still too big.

Mr Bent, from Wickford, said: “I would’ve thought 15,000 or 16,000 would have been adequate. We’re not going to fill all those seats unless we get into the Premier League, or really push at the top of the Championship and 5,500 fans rattling around in such a big stadium doesn’t look good. In terms of the homes and other things, then you need to fund a stadium somehow.

“However the money comes in, then if it helps us move onwards and upwards and so it’s good for the club.”

Plan could face fresh stumbling blocks

THE Fossetts Farm project could yet face two new stumbling blocks – with Southend Council threatening to pull out of a deal which was to help finance it.

The recently-submitted economic impact assessment also suggests Southend United may have to go back and get fresh Government approval for its big move.

The planning permission granted to the club in 2008, has since lapsed and because the new plans differ from the previous proposal, it is likely they will be “called in” by the Government for re-assessment.

Meanwhile, a dispute with the council means it has threatened to withdraw its offer to compulsorily purchase the club’s present Roots Hall ground, and surrounding land. This would have helped to bankroll the move to Fossetts Farm.

The council is seeking longdemanded guarantees from Blues chairman Ron Martin and is now reconsidering its offer of compulsory purchase.

Council leader Ron Woodley warned: “The club is in the last-chance saloon, in terms of giving us information we require and a guarantee against financial losses for the council.

“I gave it a deadline for this information of the last cabinet meeting in June.

“Unless they come forward we will no longer support a compulsory purchase order on Roots Hall.”

It is understood the information relates to the club’s plans, timescales, and money it still owes the council.