It’s been dubbed Wisbech’s ugliest eyesore, been the subject of public petitions and its owners have been threatened with legal action.
But now, four years after arsonists set fire to Constantine House, the derelict former shop and flats complex is finally rising from the ashes.
Workmen have moved into the three-storey 19th century building on Nene Quay to get a promised renovation project underway.
Wisbech Town Council leader David Oliver said: “Most people in the town have made comment about the state of the building so it’s nice to see work finally start on it.
“Hopefully once completed, the building will be brought back to its former glory. It sits at the gateway to the town and will look much better visually when people come and visit.”
The owner had been threatened with legal action by Fenland Council and given until the end of September to bring it back into use.
A final warning was given earlier this year and former cabinet member for conservation and enforcement, councillor Simon King, said at the time: “The owners of derelict or dilapidated buildings need to be aware that FDC will use both a carrot and a stick to ensure that their buildings are not allowed to fall into disrepair in the future and that existing derelict buildings cannot be allowed to remain in that state.”
The renovation of Constantine House is being carried out by London firm Hylton Chimneys.
Chief executive officer, Hylton Forrester, said the community was very supportive of the project, with the start of work prompting a positive response.
He added: “After spending time in the lovely Wisbech town and speaking to the locals, I find everyone very happy that the building project at last is on the way.”
He also said the project was using all local tradesmen, plant hire shops and builders’ merchants for the materials.