A fire-damaged hostel in Inverness city centre will require “substantial demolition” before it is rebuilt.
Structural surveys of the old Eastgate Hostel have found the building is in far worse condition that originally thought.
As well as fire damage, a number of issues have been found with the building’s layout which means it does not comply with modern construction standards.
The building has sat as a fire-damaged eyesore since a devastating blaze in April 2013, shrouded in scaffolding and hoarding.
Plans were submitted to reinstate the hostel to last month.
Now a second planning application has been submitted seeking permission to carry out the extensive demolition work required.
It follows a survey of the building by structural engineers Allen Gordon who found signs that the building has been extensively altered over the years, with several bricked-up openings.
They found that the original building would have been smaller and set further back from the street.
In their appraisal, the engineers said: “Following consideration of the existing structure it is evident that replacing like-for-like, in terms of structure, will not be feasible.”
They added: “In considering the extent of reconstruction required it has become evident that the majority of the building cannot be retained.
“A further significant consideration is that safe access via the steep tree lined bank to the rear of the building will not be possible.
“This difficulty of access to the rear of the building is further exacerbated by the fact that the road at the top of the slope is a single lane one way street, and could not be closed off for offloading or craneage for any significant period of time.
“Previous proposals to re-use significant sections of the building were suggested on
the basis that the structure was fundamentally sound, and could hence be repaired.
“However, intrusive investigations have proved that the majority of it is not capable of such re-use due to the existing structural arrangement and load carrying deficiencies at first floor level.”
The plans for reinstatement will see a Chinese takeaway housed on the ground floor alongside a retail unit.
The floors above will retain residential use, either as flats or as a hostel.
Iain Sibbald, chartered surveyor on the project, has previously said they hope to be on the site during spring 2017 with work likely to take around six months
More than 50 residents were evacuated from the four-storey building when the fire took hold around 5.15am on April 3, 2013.
The 51 backpackers and three staff escaped injury but many fled into the street in nightclothes, leaving their belongings, including passports, behind.