FRESHLY approved plans to invest £10 million in transforming and expanding a historic town centre hotel have been labelled a “vote of confidence” for Colchester’s future.

A scheme to completely refurbish the George Hotel, in High Street, has been given the green light by Colchester Council.

The plans, submitted by developer Flying Trade Group, are expected to create about 40 jobs and include the conversion of the nearby St Nicholas House into a 44-bedroom hotel.

With work due to start next year, the developer plans to transform St Nicholas House and then use the bedrooms created while it sets about its refurbishment of the George.

The plans include exposing parts of an ancient Roman road in the old hotel’s cellar for public viewing.

The Grade II* listed building features woodwork and beams dating back more than 700 years and the developer promises to take the “utmost care” in protecting its rich history.

Suki Dulai, Flying Trade’s chief executive said the company plans to continue “investing heavily” in Colchester.

He said: “Our significant investment plans are an absolute vote of confidence in the town.

“I’m sure everyone would like to see the town’s regeneration taking place so we can all be proud of what it has to offer, including a great assortment of shops and restaurants.

“This will keep people coming back into the town, along with the amazing history Colchester has to offer. We want to expose the history within the George, so customers can feel and appreciate the warmth and depth of its past, while also enjoying the comforts and convenience of modern life, from WiFi to cappuccino.

“We have always loved the George as customers and when the opportunity came up to purchase it we decided in an instant to acquire it.

“When we purchased the hotel, restoring it to its former glory was always in our plans.

“It is just a shame it has been allowed to deteriorate at all.

“It is a building of great historic importance for Colchester and as a local business we see it as a great project that is very close to our hearts.”

The project follows the developer’s construction of six luxury apartments at Castle Bailey, which also included the development of the Claudius Gateway Museum, an archaeological exhibit and coffee shop.

Flying Trade has taken on other hotel restorations, including the Mill Hotel, in Sudbury and the Dukes Head, in Kings Lynn, which dates back to 1689.

The revamped George Hotel will operate under Surya Hotels.

Mr Dulai said the plans are part of a “surge in development” throughout Colchester.

He added: “Just seeing the George refurbished will give us great pleasure and I’m sure the loyal customers, who we have talked with, will also agree that the work will enhance everybody’s experience and pleasure.

“The refurbishment and expansion will also bring a significantly enhanced offering to the town centre - with 91 bedrooms available, with the addition of some fantastic family suites, as well as state of the art conference facilities and improved banqueting space which in itself will attract more and more business to the area.

“Colchester is our hometown and we are proud of that and what it has to offer.

“The more that is invested in Colchester the more attractive it will be for local residents and visitors alike.

“We continue to invest heavily in Colchester with this project alongside the previously completed Claudius Gateway project, with an emphasis on making the most of the town’s rich history.

“There has recently been a surge in development at sites like Tollgate and Northern Approach, which demonstrate business confidence in the area.

“We similarly have great faith in the appeal of Colchester’s historic town centre.

“All investment and all attractions on the High Street bring great benefits to the town.

“We have noticed a significant increase in custom as big name brands invest in the High Street, like Primark, and our investment will likewise have a positive snowball effect for local businesses and the local economy.”