A £6.9 million scheme has been unveiled to reopen Chichester's Roman baths.

District councillors want to turn the baths into a tourist attracting to rival Bath's famous spa.

The baths were discovered several years ago in Tower Street, close to the cathedral, and were later covered for protection.

Now they could be unearthed again to form part of a major museum complex.

Talks are also to take place with West Sussex County Council's library and archives service on including a local studies centre.

Councillors have already started looking at ways of raising the estimated £7 million cost of the project.

The council could sell its existing museum in Little London and tourist centre in South Street to raise part of the cash.

The scheme would be a major boost to the "Roman" tourist trade at Chichester, which was an important regional base for the invading legions.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in the area is Fishbourne Roman Palace, a few miles from the city centre, which was discovered by workmen more than 30 years ago.

A council spokesman said the next stage in the Roman baths plan would be to develop a design brief and work out detailed costings and financing.

There will also be a public consultation exercise.