Bulldozers have finally moved in to tear down an eyesore building in a Moray town centre more than three years after demolition plans were first submitted.
The 19th-century former tobacconist and tackle shop on Elgin High Street became the subject of a protracted planning battle between the council and the Scottish Government despite the premises being on the brink of collapse.
Local councillors approved the demolition of the historic structure, which has been empty for more than a decade, to make way for a shop and 15 flats.
However, the Scottish Government overturned the decision following an objection by Historic Environment Scotland due to the building being B and C-listed.
The downgrading of the structure from its B-listing prompted the agency to drop its concerns when the plans from developers Action Elgin were approved for a second time by the council in February.
Contractors have been working inside the ageing structure from April as they prepare to knock down the building, which will have its street facade preserved.
Initial works have involved removing slates from the roof and demolishing modern additions to the rear of the structure.
Now, a huge digger has moved in to reduce the Victorian building to rubble.
Action Elgin believes the plans will attract more people and businesses to the area in addition to creating new housing opportunities.
Elgin City South councillor John Divers, who is also a director of the town’s business improvement district, explained yesterday that revitalising the plot at 184-188 High Street would help rejuvenate that part of the town centre.
Mr Divers said: “It’s been a long drawn-out process stretching over several years and it’s good we’re nearing the point where the site can contribute to the town centre again.
“It means we’re going to have one less eyesore on the High Street, which will hopefully encourage more businesses to set up there.”
It is understood that the flats, which will all be one-bedroom, will be marketed towards NHS staff, military personnel and other professional people who need accommodation for short periods of time for work in the Elgin area.