English National League football club Southend United F.C.’s plans for a new 21,000-capacity stadium will not face a planning inquiry, it has been confirmed.

The plans were approved by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council last year following submission in 2017.

And Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove has now said the plans will not be called in.

Further planning applications will be needed though, meaning work would not start on the stadium immediately, Southend Borough Council said.

Southend Borough Councillor Carole Mulroney, who is responsible for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said the news was a vital step. She said: 

The legal agreements are to be concluded. Permission won't be issued until that is finalised. They will have to submit detailed planning applications for certain aspects of the scheme so we shouldn't expect spades in the ground just yet but it is good news.

Development of the new stadium will pave the way for the regeneration of Roots Hall, Southend United F.C.’s existing but outdated stadium, which will be redeveloped to provide 502 new homes for rent.

The new stadium, designed by Populous, fulfils 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 the 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 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.