A POPULAR Indian restaurant is set to stay in town despite Colchester Council buying its premises in a bid to kickstart the long-awaited Vineyard Gate development.

Yesterday, the Gazette revealed the council is forking out £400,000 to buy the building which houses Alishan Tandoori, in Osborne Street.

Shah Aktar Hussain, who runs the business with his brothers I Shams and Daraul Ali, said he wanted to reassure residents Alishan’s would be staying in Colchester.

He said: “We are very happy in Colchester.

“We have a great history here.

“It’s been in my hands for 26 years and we plan to be here many more.”

Colchester Council is set to buy the building as one of the last pieces in the jigsaw for the much-delayed Vineyard Gate scheme.

Fresh plans for the area were announced in April, including retail units for independent and boutique shops, cafes and a public space for performances and exhibitions.

Mr Hussain said he was first approached by the council about the property as long ago as 2002 but it was only recently he decided to sell.

He said: “We have come to an agreement with the council. It was not the price I wanted but it was fair enough.

“They offered my one year rent free and I will continue here for as long as they allow me to.

“Then we will decide where we go in Colchester. I am not sure [where] yet. It depends on how long we will be here for.

“I will stay here until the council starts the work but it might be five years it could be ten years.

“It has been nearly 20 years since I got the first letter back in 2002.

“Even the council doesn’t know how long it will be.

“So we are not looking for new premises yet.

“But when we do they will be in Colchester.”

The decision to buy the property is expected to be finalised by Colchester Council in a meeting of the ruling cabinet next week.

The Vineyard Gate development has suffered significant delays since it was first mooted more than 15 year ago, when the global economic crisis struck in 2007.

A series of stalled attempts followed but the retail-led plans were shelved after the controversial Tollgate Village was approved last year.