PLANS have been unveiled for a £10 million refurbishment and expansion of a historic town centre hotel.

The firm behind the developments, Flying Trade, is seeking planning permission to convert St Nicholas House into a 41 bedroom hotel.

It will become a second site to the established George Hotel and the firm also plans to refurbish its 47 bedrooms.

The George hotel project, if it wins planning permission, is expected to take two years and follows on from Flying Trade’s construction of six luxury apartments at One Castle Park.

As part of the work on the George, part of a Roman road would be exposed for public viewing in the cellar.

The Harwich-based firm plans to renovate and transform St Nicholas House first.

Then the 41 bedrooms created would be used by The George while its rooms are restored.

About 40 jobs from the building trade to hospitality are expected to be created.

St Nicholas House was previously used as a Co-op department store before becoming JJB Sports until 2009 when the space became vacant.

A couple of years ago, approval was granted to convert the building into 19 apartments but the scheme did not go ahead.

The ground floor of the building is currently used by The Entertainer toy shop and The Sweatshop and these will remain.

Once complete, the larger hotel will have four star facilities.

Flying Trade says its project would meet the need for “good affordable accommodation in the town centre”.

The company said the George Hotel was “desperately in need of modernisation and needs to be restored with the utmost care”.

Flying Trade plans to have archaeological and historical surveys across the hotel, which features elements of woodwork and beams dating back more than 700 years.

Flying Trade chief executive officer Suki Dulai said: “We want to ensure that whilst we bring the hotel up to date with facilities, we don’t want to lose the historical atmosphere of the building.

“We aim to open up the cellar of the George and to emulate the One Castle Park project, by exposing the remains of the Roman road.”

Mr Dulai added: “We are making significant investments in Colchester with the George Project along with St Nicholas House and One Castle Park.

“Our aim is to keep the charm and ambience of the hotel, extending and offering consistent standards, good food and accommodation.”

The project follows other hotel restorations by Flying Trade including the Mill Hotel, Sudbury and the Dukes Head in Kings Lynn, which dates back to 1689.

The hotel will operate under Surya Hotels which has seven niche and four budget hotels in its chain.

They also include the Great Hallingbury Manor, Stansted and the Kingscliffe Hotel, Clacton.