Major plans to give Braintree town centre a completely new look have been given the green light - almost eight years after they were first put forward.

Council bosses unanimously approved a complete overhaul of Manor Street and part of Victoria Street during a crunch meeting on Tuesday evening.

Members of the planning committee agreed there were some limitations to the scheme, with the loss of parking, changes to the bus interchange and impact on nearby historic buildings all highlighted.

However, councillors admitted the proposals would be of significant benefit to the town and voted in favour of the scheme.

Gabrielle Spray said: "This has been a long time in the making but personally I think it is worth the wait.

“It’s a very ambitious and quite innovative regeneration of the town centre and although I have a few reservations here and there, I really welcome this and do think it is going to be the making of Braintree once it happens.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

The regeneration will see a new 70-room hotel, 35 homes, bus interchange, two storey car park, cafe and medical centre all built on land behind Braintree Town Hall.  The site has been dubbed “dull and unloved” by council bosses.

David Mann said: “I’m conscious as councillors that we do have to look to the future, to the longer term and that vitality and viability of the town centre is really very important.

“Town centres are changing, houses are changing and I think this mix of uses in this particular place will in fact be of public benefit and will help the keep the town centre alive. So there are lots of positives, some negatives, but on balance I will support this.”

Lynette Bowers Flint added: “I think it will work. I know when we look at it, it does look a mass.

"I think this will work exactly the same as the library when that was first built against the town hall because obviously we must not forget the heritage that the town hall brings and indeed the museum brings to the district and the visitor numbers that it brings.

"What also has to be consider here is the fact that it does keep the town alive.

"The negativity on it will not help because we need to keep Braintree alive and only by improving the town centre can you guarantee that it will do that."

Read more: 'Town centre revamp will reduce parking and hit our traders'

Initial estimates put the cost of the scheme at about £11.5 million, however council bosses have admitted that figure will likely be much higher.

The regeneration of Manor Street was first mooted back in 2011 when developer Henry Boot was in charge of the scheme.

Despite a number of designs being put forward, the developer was unable to agree final plans and pulled out of the scheme in 2016, which is when Braintree Council announced it would take over the plans.