A NEW-LOOK Rayleigh town centre will take a step closer to reality this year as a final public consultation on the Area Action Plan begins.

The plan, if approved, will give the go ahead for a bustling night time economy and a more pedestrian-friendly High Street.

This would give potential developers a guide of what is proposed for the town.

Consultation is set to begin early this year and last approximately six weeks, before the plan – along with public comments – is sent to inspectors for final approval.

Keith Hudson, Rochford councillor responsible for planning and transportation, said: “It is better to control what we can. Otherwise we end up with everyone doing their own thing and end up with something worse than what we have now, which no one wants.”

The action plan has been in development since 2008 when a retail and leisure study suggested ways to safeguard the High Street, with an initial public consultation in January 2013.

Plans include more bars and restaurants, plus a new public meeting place in the High Street. The taxi rank would be moved to Websters Way.

Mr Hudson hopes the plan will be fully approved by the end of 2014, but any potential action depends on money from Essex County Council, or outside investment.

Carl Watson, Rayleigh chamber of trade president, said: “It’s great news the plans are open for viewing again.

“We have had prior involvement and made comments, I will be interested to see if they have been taken on board.”