THE first phase of the much-delayed multi-million pound KTC1 Kidderminster town centre development is now scheduled to be up and running between Christmas and next Easter.

The development, a waterfront leisure and shopping complex providing about 1,000 jobs, has hit a series of snags since it was first mooted in 1996.

Wyre Forest District Council planners have accepted a redesign of the much-criticised Tesco building which will form the centrepiece of the first phase.

Planning chief Jake Berriman said the new design was more environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

Kidderminster Town Centre Partnership and Kidderminster Civic Society, who criticised the previous design, broadly welcomed the new plan.

It echoes traditional carpet industry architecture and will preserve the Brintons building with art deco frontage on Castle Road.

Mr Berriman praised Tesco for reconsidering the design after much criticism.

He supported the original proposal on planning grounds but the new plan better reflected the locality in retaining the original structure.

The application for a 82,335 sq ft food store, petrol station, 554 car parking spaces, and engineering works, including realignment of the River Stour, was approved by the planning (development control) committee.

Meanwhile, Mr Berriman is "reasonably pleased" at resubmitted plans for phases two to four of the development.

The planning chief dubbed earlier proposals vague.

However, he was disappointed the new plan has no confirmation of a cinema - number one on the people's wish list.

There is also no detail of an indoor market or arts centre but Mr Berriman stressed this was a matter for the developer and interested parties willing to stump up funds.

Part of the piano building will now be for residential use. And there will be no new access road onto Crossley Park via traffic lights on the Ringway - instead access will come via Lower Mill Street.

Phases two to four comprise retail, business, food and drink, and leisure uses.

Mr Berriman said: "On planning grounds we are heading in the right direction - I am reasonably pleased at this stage."