PLANS have been unveiled for a £2.5million expansion to a popular pub, with bosses saying it could kickstart the high street’s Covid recovery.

Pub chain Wetherspoons has announced the proposals for The Blue Boar, in Billericay High Street.

If agreed the expansion would see a larger dining and drinking area inside the pub, an extended kitchen and larger beer garden.

The planning statement says: “The development will increase shopper and visitor footfall in this part of the town and introduce life and vibrancy to the building.

“Daytime activity will be increased whilst the evening economy would be improved. Furthermore, a number of new jobs will be created, employing recruited staff from the area. The site can be adequately serviced and will not create any adverse impact upon the highway network.”

Councillors have welcomed the investment in the town centre.

Andrew Schrader, Tory councillor for Billericay East, said: “I think that any firm that wants to invest such a huge sum of money in our high street shows the great confidence it has in the viability of it. That level of investment is an endorsement of the future viability of the town and high street.”

David Dadds, fellow Tory councillor for the ward, added: “I welcome any investment in our town centres but I do think there must be a balance where they can improve the customer experience but also ensure it does not adversely impact the community. If they increase the capacity they must also manage the customers coming in and out of the venue and if they do that I welcome this. There has to be a balance with the needs of the residents and community.”

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “The Blue Boar is an extremely popular pub.

“We strive to give our customers the best possible pub and that is why we have submitted a planning application to redevelop the pub. We await the outcome of the planning decision.

“At present we are unable to give a timescale for the project to take place, subject to planning permission being granted.”