Allowing an estate agent to open a new branch in an empty shop unit will help boost town centre footfall, planners believe.

CM Rent has applied for a change of use for the former Picturesque Kodak Express shop at 40 Newland Street, Witham.

Officers have recommended Braintree Council’s planning committee approves the application at a meeting on Tuesday.

Opponents to the proposal had argued the change of use was not necessary because two units opposite the shop in Newland Street were also available.

But Braintree Council development manager Tessa Lambert said: “The proposal site has also been vacant for about five months.

“Enabling the use proposed would have a positive effect on town centre footfall, the appearance of the area and on the economy generally.”

Planning officers said objection comments relating to competition and the amount of estate agents in the town centre were not relevant to the application.

Family-run CM Rent, which was founded in 2003, currently has offices in Braintree, Chelmsford and Billericay.