SOUTHEND’S council leader told how he fears for the new stadium following the latest setback.

John Lamb, leader of Southend Council, said: “This is a bit of a blow.

“British Land is a very respectable developer in these sorts of applications.

“I would have thought they are hedging their bets.

“Without someone beside him, I don’t see how Ron Martin is going to get the funding. It would put that in question for the whole development.

“Hopefully British Land will see their way to supporting it if they feel it’s going to be a good prospect.”

Mr Lamb hopes any differences can be ironed out and the deal can still be made between the two parties.

He said: “When you put a scheme of this size into planning it’s usual to have the means to go forward. It’s a shame because of course we would love to see a new stadium free up Roots Hall for housing and shops.

“It’s difficult to say what they will do. With the timeline of the project I wonder how quickly British Land would come back.”

The scheme has been in the pipeline for 15 years and fans have suffered many false dawns as promised start dates have come and gone.

Jamie Forsyth, co-editor of All At Sea fanzine, said: “This will come as a blow to supporters as, with the announcement last month that plans had been submitted to the council, it was thought that British Land were fully committed to the club’s proposals.

“Although British Land have not completely abandoned the project, this is another in a long line of delays and disappointments and may explain why the planning application remains invalidated more than a month after supposed submission.”

The plans represent one of biggest developments the town has seen in decades - though it has drawn criticism it will pull shoppers away from Southend High Street.

The Fossetts plans include a 12-screen cinema, hotel, 160 flats and a retail complex.

The Roots Hall site is set to make way for 675 new homes when Southend United moves out.

Chairman Ron Martin urged Southend Council to include the homes in its Southend Central Area Action Plan, which will map out the future of the town for decades to come.

Mr Martin made representations at a public hearing last week.