CABINET members agreed unanimously that plans for a multi-million pound town centre regeneration project should go to the next stage.

At a meeting on Monday Braintree Council’s cabinet backed the bid which includes a 70 bed hotel, 35 apartments and two retail units.

It means the plans will now go before a full council meeting next month for approval before a planning application is submitted.

The costs involved in the scheme were not discussed in public ahead of the council beginning procurement with construction companies.

Councillor John McKee highlighted the long wait to find an appropriate scheme for the site.

He said: “We’ve been here now trying to get this central site for Braintree developed for many years.

“There’s been false starts and difficulty with getting a scheme that’s viable but we have here a scheme that’s viable and will regenerate Braintree town centre which we have agreed is a major objective of this authority.

“The scheme that’s been put forward will bring footfall, not only to the health facility, but it will have about 70 people living in the scheme and shopping in the town centre and that will be start of the regeneration.”

It is expected the project will be completed around May 2021.

Andrew Hull, head of projects at the council, said at the meeting the board of a hotel chain has agreed to be involved but the name of the brand can't yet be shared.

Councillor Tom Cunningham added: “There are perhaps some residents who are a little sceptical about such an investment by the district council.

"But I hope they can take some reassurance from the extent of professionalism and knowledge that we have brought to this project.”