COLCHESTER’S Red Lion Yard has been relaunched after a £600,000 revamp as a Covent Garden-style boutique shopping alley.

A new restaurant and several stores are due to open along the route, which links the High Street and Lion Walk shopping centre.

It has been overhauled with distinctive new shopfronts, paving and lighting.

The Cinnamon Lounge, previously part of Red Lion Hotel, is to become the East Coast Diner by the end of next month, creating 20 jobs.

Michele McConnachie and Nina White will open the Maison White home decor and gifts store tomorrow.

The Fashion Editor clothes boutique will open later.

A bespoke jeweller and a nail bar have also signed leases, and there is interest from a second restaurant and several further small businesses for the remaining lets.

The revamp was unveiled yesterday with a Chinese lion parade, performances by Theatretrain stage school and a preview of an exhibition about the 500-year-old hotel.

Refurbishment has also helped reveal many of the original features, brickwork and wooden beams at the hotel and yard.

This weekend there will be family entertainment, including free children’s activities, live music and face painting.

For more, including interviews with the new Red Lion Yard businesses, see Friday's Gazette.