A BIG-name restaurant chain will arrive in Colchester for the first time as part of the £5.5 million revamp of the town's old Co-op store.

Loungers, known for brands like Cosy Club and Lounge, have been announced as the anchor tenants at the East of England Co-op's Long Wyre Street development.

New restaurant, Romano Lounge, will offer all-day dining with the restaurants well-known for their comfortable atmosphere and unique interior decoration.

The firm have exchanged contracts on the largest corner ground floor unit of the former department store.

Hux Norman, property manager at Loungers, said: "We are thrilled to have exchanged on the Long Wyre Street Development in Colchester.

"We have looked in Colchester for a number of years for a site, so we are excited to finally be able welcome the people of Colchester to Romano Lounge."

The £5.5 million revamp of the old Co-op will see two retail and five restaurant units created as well as 24 apartments, made up of suites and one and two-bed flats.

The restaurants will have outside dining space with the nearby St Nicholas Square undergoing a total revamp.

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Two of the properties will be offered at affordable rents with a partnership secured with Colchester Borough Homes.

Covid has caused delays to the constructions, but works are set to be complete this year.

Nick Denny, joint chief executive of the East of England Co-op, said: "We’re absolutely delighted to announce Loungers as our tenant for this development.

"We are confident that as the development is completed and social distancing restrictions are lifted, this will prove a popular destination.

"I am delighted that our vision is coming to fruition.

"Town centres have changed. I see them as a place to live, work and enjoy leisure experiences.

"This scheme is designed to offer just that.

"The changes to St Nicholas Square, to which we contributed, will further enhance this part of Colchester town centre, and provide space for outside dining.

Property consultant Jamieson Mills is marketing the remaining units and is in discussions with a number of interested parties.

The homes will be let and managed by Fenn Wright Colchester.