THE next phase of work on an ambitious £2.5million scheme to boost Braintree town centre has started.

The latest stage of a bid to make the town centre a pedestrian-only zone is being launched this week.

The first phase of construction works on Bank Street began in April and is now completed.

It has seen the number of disabled parking spaces for people visiting the town centre rise from seven to 17.

The next phase of works in Fairfield Road will start this week, including resurfacing of footways and carriageways, as well as a new bus gate including a new cycle route.

Other works include street lighting, drainage and traffic signal improvements.

The project will see a new facility allowing buses, taxis and cyclists to go both ways - north and southbound - with northbound journeys from South Street up Fairfield Road remaining the same.

Buses that previously used the High Street will travel from the new Manor Street bus interchange, through the bus gate and down Fairfield Road.

Braintree Council economic development boss Tom Cunningham said: “These works are a crucial part of our pedestrianisation scheme, as it will see a long-term solution for disabled parking, improving walking and cycling facilities and enable resurfacing improvement works in these areas of the town centre, to benefit our residents and businesses.

"We’re pleased we have been able to keep these works on track during these unprecedented times, getting us one step closer to creating a town centre people want to visit and socialise in the future.”

Marlborough Highways is carrying out the work.

Works will be completed during the day, with lane closures and a diversion in place to go through South Street, up Railway Street and down Manor Street.

These works are a crucial part of our pedestrianisation scheme

Fairfield Road works are scheduled to take up to 11 weeks and temporary signage has been installed in advance of and during the works.

The removal of bus stops in the High Street is expected to take place once Fairfield Road is complete, so the main works can start at Market Place, Great Square and the High Street.