COLCHESTER’S historic Officers’ Club is finally rising from the ashes two years after it was destroyed in a blaze. Builders have started work on a replacement club house at St John’s Green. Colchester Council’s planning officers have approved an application, eight months after it was submitted. Michael Green, the club’s marketing director, said Colchester-based Hills Building Group aimed to have the new club ready by next spring. He said: “We’re all feeling delighted after a long planning process and a certain amount of anxiety. “Apart from being a club in Colchester that’s been very useful for people over the years, it’s a unique establishment because it’s the last Officers’ Club. There’s nothing like it anywhere else.” The Officers’ Club is set in the grounds of the former Abbey of St John and next to the surviving 15th century Abbey Gatehouse. Forty firefighters battled a blaze in the original building in July 2010. A survey by Colchester Archaeological Trust after the building was cleared found the remains of the 900-year abbey. The new building will have a members’ lounge, restaurant and function area inside, with a marquee space, terrace and gardens outside. Mr Green said the aim is to retain the popular traditional aspects of the club, formed in 1887, while also trying to attract younger members and families.