England: Southend new stadium on ‘knife edge’

source: BBC.co.uk

England: Southend new stadium on ‘knife edge’ Economy is different than in 2007, when the plan was announced. So the city councilors need to accept halved donation by Southend United and Sainsbury’s if the plan is to go ahead. Council to vote on April 10 – BBC informs.

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When the stadium design was first presented in 2006, it was expected to be opened in 2010. Well, it’s 2013 and it’s still not certain we’ll see it get built. Ironic, as the project finally has the planning permission required.

But it still needs to be accepted by city council, who are to vote on April 10. The subject of their vote is whether to accept or reject the proposal by Southend United and Sainsbury’s, who offered to contribute £3.5 million towards city centre revitalization. The sum is just over half of what both commercial partners offered in 2007 (£6m), but still higher than their more recent bid of £2.25.

Should the councilors take the amount given, we should see construction starting this year. If not, the Fossett Farm Stadium may become history.

In a letter to Southend Council, club chairman Ron Martin and Sainsbury's development surveyor Robert Oxley said that both parties were still committed to the scheme.

But they added: "At present, the viability is on a knife edge. To be deliverable, the whole package must be financially viable.

"The scheme was conceived in an entirely different world when the offer of £6m was made in 2007 and we, along with many others, could not have foreseen the financial landscape of today."

The letter said the economic downturn had put the viability of the Fossetts Farm and Roots Hall schemes in jeopardy, adding: "Put simply, there is no longer £6m available to put towards the regeneration of the town centre."

The club and supermarket said they could make an initial payment of £500,000 when work begins on a planned retail park at Fossetts Farm. The final instalment of £1m, bringing the total to £3.5m, would be paid when a hotel planned as part of the scheme opens.

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