CELEBRITY chef and Essex boy Jamie Oliver is planning to open a restaurant in Chelmsford.

The TV cook and his company - Jamie Oliver Ltd - hope to turn the former Barclays bank building in the High Street into Italian eatery, Jamie’s Trattoria.

The 38-year-old, who started his highly successful restaurant chain after shooting to culinary stardom as the Naked Chef, will offer pasta, pizza and a variety of anti-pastis as part of his Trattoria menu.

The new restaurant could create up to 40 new jobs.

Mike Smith, from the economy and drowth department at Chelmsford City Council, said: “Bringing part of the building back into active use and the prospect of jobs are both welcomed.

“The application is fully supported especially as part of the wider improvement and attraction of this area of the City centre.”

Trattoria is the latest in Jamie’s chain of Italian restaurants which are smaller and more rustic than the Jamie’s Kitchen outlets.

It would be only the second branch to open in the UK, the first opened in Richmond last July.

The proposals would see the building’s ground floor and basement converted into kitchens and dining space with a bar area too. There are also plans for a decked terrace at the back of the building.

A design statement, submitted on behalf of Jamie Oliver Ltd said the period features of the Grade II listed property dating back to 1905, will be “respected and enhanced”.

The proposed opening hours of the restaurant are 7am to 12am, Monday to Thursday, 7am to 12.30am Friday and Saturday and 7am to 11pm on Sundays.

Foodie Francis Beck, 45, who lives in the city, said: “This is super news, I really do hope this happens!”

Carluccio’s, another Italian food chain, has Chelmsford earmarked as potential location for one of its restaurants too.

Suggestions include setting up at the High Chelmer Shopping Centre as part of plans to develop a piazza on Exchange Way at the centre.