RETAIL at Southend United’s new stadium would have “killed high street trade”, but business bosses are now looking to a prosperous future.

The decision to remove retail and leisure from the proposed stadium at Fossetts Farm has been welcomed by Southend’s Business Improvement District (BID), with bosses claiming it was impossible to plan for the future of the town centre while the future of the football club was undecided.

Under the agreement, the planned stadium will be surrounded by around 800 new homes which marks a significant change to an earlier proposal to build retail space and a cinema.

>> The 14 year wait: Southend United stadium plan all set to go ahead

The idea of building shops and a cinema around the stadium caused concern among many who felt it would result in businesses avoiding investment in the town centre.

One of the biggest critics of the plan was Southend BID but with the new plans announced, the chair of the organisation has enthusiastically endorsed it.

Dennis Baldry, Chair of Southend Business Improvement District (BID) said: “I think everyone in Southend would be in support of the creation of a new, fit for purpose football stadium but the issue for us at Southend BID has always been the inclusion of an out of town retail development.

“This would have undoubtedly had a negative impact on all businesses in the high street, not just retail, as spend would be diluted between the two zones.

“The indecision left businesses unable to plan for the future, but with the agreement now in place companies can now be assured that investment in their Southend high street stores would not be ill placed. This is positive news for Southend at a very challenging time.”

It was revealed on Thursday that Southend Council had entered into an agreement with a housing developer and Southend United Football Club to build 1,300 new homes.

Up to 502 of the new houses will be built on the Roots Hall Stadium site after the club moves to Fossetts Farms, off Eastern Avenue.

The stadium, which is yet to secure planning permission, will be funded by Homes England through a loan to the club. The loan is still provisional at this stage and it is not clear how much the stadium will cost in total.

Southend Council will take on the lease of the rented properties and will manage them, providing a long-term source of income that will help to finance services