Plans to transform a shopping outlet have moved a step closer after experts gave their approval to the more of the scheme.

Planning permission is already in place to revamp all shop fronts at Freeport in Braintree and now proposals to increase the car park capacity, improve the road layout and landscaping have now all been recommended for approval.

Braintree Council's planning committee will make a final call on the plans during a meeting tomorrow evening.

Further proposals to build a new entrance building at the shopping centre will meanwhile be decided at a later date.

The plans which will be decided tomorrow evening include the extension of the northern car park that will add a further 400 new spaces.

Improvements are also lined up for the Millennium Way roundabout, where a new slip road could be introduced to provide direct access to the northern car park.

Further changes include the introduction of new electric signs showing the number of car parking spaces available, and rule changes allowing customers exiting the car park from the south to turn right, rather than having to turn around in the bus area.

Despite some concerns about the plans, council officers say the regeneration of Freeport as whole will have multiple benefits to the town.

In a report which will be put before councillors tomorrow, planning development manager Christopher Paggi states: "Officers consider that the social and economic benefits of the scheme are clear with additional parking capacity at Freeport and a greatly improved separate access arrangement to the enlarged northern car park.

"Environmentally, the proposal would provide improved access to the site from the rail station and improved access for coaches, both being more sustainable forms of transport for customers visiting the site.

"Overall the benefits of the proposal are clear and are considered to outweigh the limited dis-benefits. The proposal is therefore considered to represent a sustainable development which will form an important part of the regeneration of Freeport Outlet Centre."

The meeting where the plans will be decided will take place at Causeway House at 7.15pm tomorrow.