BLUEPRINTS for a £1million retail park at a former town centre gas works and disused car park in Clacton have been given the green light.

Development and investment firm Hawkstone Vale has been given the go-ahead for the new complex, next to Waterglade Retail Park, in Old Road, Clacton.

The 1.2 hectare site will comprise of a mixed-use trade development with 14 units as well as a new tyre centre, gym and drive-thru restaurant.

A number of retailers have already signed up for the new development, including Toolstation, Subway, P1 Pitstop, Ableworld and Bedworld.

McDonalds had originally been lined up to take on the drive-thru restaurant, but it is understood the franchise is no longer involved in the scheme.

Andy Kirton, managing director of Hawkstone, said work will start in the coming months now planning permission had been granted.

“From the excellent take-up of units so far we know this will be a very successful scheme, and that businesses have confidence in the future of Clacton,” he said.

“This investment complements nicely existing businesses in Clacton, as well as providing numerous jobs not only in the new units but in construction too.

“My thanks go to Tendring Council for their support for this scheme, while making sure all the necessary checks are done with regard to proper planning, and we look forward to updating people soon with opening dates.”

It is hoped that that complex, which is expected to create 100 jobs, will open in Spring next year.

The site used to house the town’s gas works, before they were demolished and the land sold by National Grid, which had also bought a former Tendring Council car park next door to house utilities for the new development.

Mary Newton, the council’s cabinet member for business and economic growth, welcomed the investment in the town.

“This site is an important location for the future of Clacton town centre, and this private investment is heartily welcomed,” she said.

“It is a good example of our Tendring4Growth ethos being put into practice – enabling development by selling an under-used car park and taking a proactive planning approach – to support economic growth in the district.”

But Graham Webb, chairman of Clacton Town Partnership, said he was concerned about the development’s impact on town centre shopping.

He said: “I don’t think it’s a good thing. In the history of retail, anything built outside of the town centre does not benefit the town centre.

“Because this development is on the town centre’s doorstep it might not be as bad as if it was being built at Brook Park.

“But with the limited parking – and now ANPR cameras - at Waterglade Retail Park, you’re not going to see many people walking into town from it.

“All this bidding for Government cash to save town centres is pointless if you’re going to build more out-of-town retail parks.”