AN ICONIC nightclub in central Chelmsford will be transformed into 55 flats by it’s former owner.

Luigi Manzi’s plans to turn the old Dukes nightclub into apartments and shops have been given the go-ahead by Chelmsford Council.

The multi-million pound project, now set to materilaise two years after the venue closed, will contain:

• 14 one bedroom flats

• 30 two bedroom flats

• 10 three bedroom flats

• one four bedroom flat

• five shops at ground floor level

• 24 car parking spaces

• Public courtyard space in centre

Mr Manzi, 68, who bought the site in 1982 said he was delighted to be able to redevelop the buildings which hold “a lot of nostalgia” for him and many others.

He said: “It was very sad to see the club close.

“But with the change in nightclub culture with the smoking ban, 24 hour licensing and buying drink from supermarkets before going for a night out, the time had come for change.

“Dukes was a big meeting point in Chelmsford and I am sure some people have very, very fond memories of the place.

“But it had served it’s purpose as a club and now it is a good time to service another need in the community. There is a big need for residential property.”

The highest building in the development will be seven storeys with planning officers at the council feeling these would not obstruct views in the city centre.

Praise was given to the project by members of the planning committee including Neil Gulliver, councillor responsible for planning and economic development.

Tory Mr Guillver said: “I think this is a fantastic opportunity for the city as the design will create interest in the area while not imposing on other nearby buildings.

“I think this will help show Chelmsford at it’s best.”