Refined proposals for the redevelopment of Braintree town centre have been revealed.

Braintree Council has been working on a multi-million pound scheme to revamp part of the historic centre since 2012, however work could finally begin in early 2019.

Proposals will see a doctor’s surgery, pharmacy, hotel, a new bus park, car park, apartments and a cafe restaurant built on land off of Manor Street, Braintree.

It is hoped the plans will turn Braintree town centre into a destination for visitors.

Tom Cunningham, councillor responsible for economic development, said: “People realise that Braintree is not going to become a retail centre because of the size of the town and its proximity to towns like Chelmsford and Colchester as well as shopping centres like Westfield and Lakeside.

“We have to present it very differently and this is our plan.”

The newest addition to the proposals is the cafe restaurant. Braintree Council says it is in discussion with two independent businesses about the prospect of them opening as part of the development.

Mr Cunningham said this would add another dimension to the scheme but the council could not rival Freeport by bidding for big name chain eateries.

“I think having an eatery is very important. It is about improving the idea of Braintree as somewhere you want to spend time,” he said.

“There is not as good a selection of restaurants in Braintree town centre at the moment as there are in Witham and Halstead for instance.”

The hotel will have 70 bedrooms and Braintree Council said talks are at an advanced stage with a “national chain”, but would not confirm the name.

A total of 35 one and two-bed apartments will be built, of which a percentage will be affordable.

A 110-space car park is being proposed, with both private and public spaces. The new bus interchange will also nearly double the capacity.

Mr Cunningham said: “It is very future proof in terms of space. Effectively the new facility can serve Braintree until 2033.”

Funding for the project is set to come from Braintree Council’s reserves with previous estimates for the project putting the cost at £11.5 million.

Mr Cunningham said: “With the apartments and the hotel you see we have a sustainable revenue stream. It is taxpayers money and so we have to be careful spending it - but this development generates financial benefits.”

A planning application will be submitted in April with work beginning in early 2019. Early estimates say building work will take two years.

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