Demolition workers yesterday began razing to the ground a fire-stricken hostel in Inverness – six years after it went ablaze.
The hostel, situated opposite the Eastgate Shopping Centre, has been shrouded in scaffolding and hoarding since the blaze, where over 50 guests were evacuated when the alarm was raised in the early hours of April 3, 2013.
Nobody was injured in the fire.
However, the Eastgate Hostel has stood as an eyesore since, despite numerous failed attempts over the years to address the unattractive sight.
Yesterday, a skip was present as workers from Beattie Demolition began removing advertising boarding around the base of the scaffold.
Local groups and representatives have welcomed the news that demolition has finally begun.
Chairwoman of Crown and City Centre Community Council Pat Hayden said: “As a community council we are delighted it has started as it is something we have been very distressed about.
“It has taken far too long and in such a prominent site in the city centre.
“We always quote M&Co as an example on Academy Street. They had a fire upstairs and worked extremely well on refurbishing and rebuilding and that is what should have happened here. They did a great job and we want to see similar happen here.
“Having now started, it mustn’t stop. It is excellent news and we need to just keep going day in and day out until the job is finally done.”
In total, work is expected to last up to 12 weeks, with disruption to local businesses and pedestrians aimed to be kept to a minimum following an extensive plan spearheaded by representatives of Highland Council and Inverness Business Improvement District (BID).
Motorists are advised that access to Eastgate via its junction with Crown Road to the Inglis Street junction is to be closed until Friday, with access for emergency vehicles and deliveries to be granted on approval from the contractor.
Inverness city manager David Haas said: “With work having started council officials will continue to ensure that arrangements are in place which provide for the owners to carry out an efficient and effective demolition process.
“This will involve regular meetings with affected businesses and the owners and representatives and we are particularly grateful for the support that Inverness BID have given in this regard.”
Workers are now set to remove the front of the building, with stone being set aside to be reused upon the commencement of refurbishment works.
Plans have previously been submitted for the site to be redeveloped into flats and retail units.