A NEW garden and plaza area has opened to the public in Braintree town centre.

Councillors and partners joined Braintree Council chairman Andrew Hensman as he cut the ribbon in an opening ceremony at the garden situated behind the town hall on Manor Street.

The new circular plaza contains wooden benches, trees and shrubs, as well as steps connecting it to the library.

The council says the new area complements the character of the town hall and the adjacent listed pillars and walls.

The design also includes elements which makes the garden friendlier for people living with conditions such as dementia.

The council says the paving is limited to two types, with tones which aim to be soft and muted, and the low-level walls and visible entry and exit points are designed to make the space feel open and calm.

The plants are textured and scented to stimulate the senses, and the species are meant to be familiar to older generations.

The garden forms one part of Braintree Council’s £30million Victoria Square regeneration, which also includes 35 new apartment homes, a 'Livewell' hub, pharmacy, 70-bed Travelodge, café/restaurant, new bus interchange, public toilets and a twin level car park.

The garden is open seven days a week and there are CCTV cameras to monitor and deter littering and anti-social behaviour.

Council assets boss Kevin Bowers added: “We’ve reached another milestone in the modernisation of our town centre with the opening of this new public open space.

“We hope, as the plants develop and mature, it will be a relaxing place for people to sit and perhaps eat their lunch.

“It’s also a great outdoor space for guests using the facilities at the town hall.

“I’m delighted to be here to mark this special occasion with colleagues and partners.”

Ian Gifford, regional director at Kier Eastern and Midlands, said: “This new space is the final piece in the regeneration of Victoria Square, which Kier is proud to have played a key part in.

“We worked closely with the town hall and museum to redefine the garden space, and create a design which also reflects Braintree’s history.”