TAXPAYERS are set to fork out £400,000 to secure a “key building” which could kickstart the fresh plans to transform Vineyard Gate.

Colchester Council is set to buy the premises which is home to the popular Alishan Tandoori, in Osborne Street, in a bid to get the long-awaited development moving.

It is unclear how the purchase will affect the highly regarded restaurant.

But documents expected to go before senior councillors next week appear to show the current occupants will be given one year to find and fit out a new premises.

The document labels the building as the “key remaining property in the site assembly” for Vineyard Gate.

Tim Young, Colchester councillor responsible for regeneration, said: “It is a building which we know will be key to the Vineyard Gate development and the owner was willing to sell at a price we could afford.

“There is still some way to go but it is very important we assemble the land which is needed to make the project viable.”

Colchester Council also owns the the Emmaus shop and warehouse, opposite the bus station, a mini-cab office and one other property, having set aside more than £4 million to buy up land for the development.

Mr Young added: “Things are moving along and we are happy with what the scheme could look like and what purpose it will serve.”

Mr Young did, however, admit the council is yet to appoint a development partner despite strong interest from a number of groups.

Fellow cabinet member Nick Barlow, councillor responsible for commercial services, said more information on the project could be made public before the end of the year.

He added: “At that stage, we will listen to the feedback and we will move on from there.”

Fresh plans for the area were announced in April, when council bosses outlined a scheme which would include retail units for independent and “boutique” shops, cafes, temporary shops and a public space which could be used for performances or exhibitions.

Mr Young said: “This will be something we believe is not on offer either in Essex or the region and will give people yet another reason to come to Colchester.”

The decision is set to be finalised at a meeting of the ruling cabinet next week.