THE head of a department store has welcomed plans for a £40million investment in the town centre.

Williams & Griffin was given planning permission to refurbish its Colchester High Street store last week and was also allowed to demolish its 1920s facade.

Hugo Fenwick, group trading director of Fenwick’s, which bought Williams & Griffin in 2008, said: “We are delighted that the planning committee approved our proposal.

“Visiting Colchester town centre needs to be a truly exciting shopping experience.

“It is greatly to the credit of the council that they recognised our scheme was dependent on achieving visually striking double-height windows, approached from either direction on the High Street.”

He also said the new layout would be easier to navigate, with 50 per cent more floor space.

Building will start in spring 2013 and will be completed by autumn 2015.

The store will trade throughout the conversion.