Town centre businesses will reap the benefits of the proposed revamp of Freeport, it is claimed.

The man behind the rejuvenation of Braintree town centre, Robert Ely, says he is fully supportive of Landsec’s plans to give the designer outlet a major facelift and does not fear it will draw shoppers away from other businesses in the area.

Mr Ely, who owns the Chophouse restaurant in New Street, is now head of the Braintree Town Partnership which is working closely with Braintree Council on plans to rejuvenate and boost trade in the centre of the town.

Landsec says its vision to boost footfall at Freeport should not have an adverse impact on business elsewhere in Braintree, and Mr Ely shares a similar view that the changes to the designer outlet will actually work well with his own vision to boost the town centre.

He said: “I am 100 per cent behind the plans for Freeport because the town centre is not directly competing against it.

"If anything, the town centre can thrive from the extra footfall at Freeport because people who want the smaller, quirky shops will have to come to the town centre.

“I think it coincides nicely with everything else that is going on in the town at the moment like the Manor Street regeneration and rejuvenation of the High Street.

“It shows how Braintree as a whole is making big steps forward and for the first time everyone is coming together to make the town a better place.”

The multi-million pound Manor Street regeneration scheme will see a new doctor’s surgery, pharmacy, hotel and apartments built in the town centre.

The scheme could coincide with the pedestrianisation of High Street which has also been proposed to help boost trade.

Mr Ely says the two plans form part of a much bigger scheme to boost Braintree throughout the coming years.

He added: “The town partnership is looking at a six toseven-year journey and there is still so much more happening in the background.

“Businesses like the owners of Freeport and even Braintree Town FC are coming together now to make this happen.

"Projects like Manor Street will need time to bed in because we are in a tricky situation at the moment because the footfall just isn’t there.

“People won’t invest or set up business until that changes, but I truly believe things are going to get a lot better and Braintree will become a thriving town.

"The street market has been a real success and that’s just a little taste of what’s to come.”