BUILDING work has finally started on the fire-hit High Town site in Hereford which has been derelict for eight years.

Developers Elevate Property Group have appointed Hereford building contractor C J Bayliss who are now on site to begin work on the project for 18 residential dwellings and two ground floor retail units.

They are hoping that the redevelopment named Alban House will be completed by the summer next year.

Elevate Property Group, the Birmingham-based developer, bought the site with its Grade II façade in early 2017 and hoped to start work as soon as possible.

But the developers faced a series of hurdles to overcome. There was an ongoing saga over power provision to the site after an electricity sub-station was destroyed in the fire.

Then Saxon ramparts dating back to the late 9th century were discovered within the foundations, requiring careful archaeological assessment and chronicling by county experts.

In March Elevate, in order to protect the site and their investment, bought the nearby Booth Hall pub which dates back to 1392.

Steve Dodd, MD of Elevate Property Group, said: “The site now being developed as Alban House has been a labour of love.

“As responsible developers, we are very conscious of the heritage of the cathedral city of Hereford and we wanted to ensure that we respect the history of the site, while ultimately bringing to the market much needed accommodation in this popular part of the city.”

“At times it seemed as if this site was determined not to be redeveloped but we have been buoyed up by the support of residents and the council who were keen for us to make progress.

“We are particularly proud to be able to award the contract for the redevelopment of this complex site to a local contractor in C J Bayliss.”

The project is being overseen by development managers BACE Construction Consultants.

Provisional prices are £135,000 for the one bedroom apartments, ranging up to £350,000. Selling agents are Arkwright Owens in Hereford.

About 70 firefighters and 20 fire engines fought the fire on October 21, 2010.

It began in the Card Factory at about 4.30am in the morning and spread to a number of neighbouring shops.

Four people were evacuated from city centre flats – but no one was injured.