PLANS to revamp a historic Dorchester hotel have been approved.

A planning application was submitted for a major refurbishment of the Kings Arms in High East Street, which closed its doors last year.

The pub is thought to be more than 280 years old and featured in Thomas Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge.

A planning application for the works was submitted by the Stay Original Co, previously the Draco Pub Company, which says it wants to breathe fresh life into the historic venue.

The plans, which include upgrading the accommodation and bar and restaurant area as well as removing the conservatory at the back of the building, have now been approved by officers at West Dorset District Council.

Originally the company was looking to reopen early next year following the refurbishment but last month it confirmed that the reopening was set to be delayed until "late 2017".

Councillors at Dorchester Town Council have previously praised the plans for being sympathetic to the original features of the historic hotel while enhancing the tourist offer in Dorchester.

Rob Greacen, managing director of the Stay Original Co, said: “We’re delighted that we finally have approval.

"Work has begun on construction drawings and we expect to start on site next year.

"The opening date will be confirmed once we have secured a contractor."

After taking over the Kings Arms, the company said it was committed to serving locally sourced food and drink with its award-winning kitchens overseen by executive chef Tom Blake, formerly head chef at River Cottage.

The planning application states: “The building remains a key landmark in the town and its present condition represents a waste of a tremendous asset.

“Its rejuvenation would possibly be the key to the rejuvenation of the High East Street and assist in re-establishing it as the prime retail and commercial street in the town.”

A report by officers at West Dorset District Council states that, following extensive negotiations with the applicant, the proposals have been met with the approval of Historic England and its conservation officer.

The report states: "Overall the refurbishment will help reinstate this building to its former glory."

It goes on to add: "In planning terms, the proposed development is considered to be acceptable in principle, because the hotel refurbishment will improve the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area.

"The refurbished hotel will increase the quality and diversity of the tourism offered in the local area and benefit the local economy, also bringing a wider community benefit to the local community and visitors."