HEREFORDSHIRE Council is to take enforcement action to restore the scene of one of the county’s biggest ever fires.
Properties destroyed or damaged by the blaze in High Town, Hereford, have still not been re-built four years on.
One of the stores, River Island, is to re-locate to the city’s Old Market development next month.
Today, the council confirmed that it was to take enforcement action against the owner of the properties, requiring restoration to a specified standard.
The council has held extensive discussions with the owner to encourage repairs.
These talks brought about the protection of the historic elements of the buildings that will be retained in a new development scheme, which was backed by planners shortly after the fire.
However, no further fundamental rebuilding and restoration work has taken place since.
Outstanding insurance claims said to have stopped the work were settled in June last year.
The previous March, the Hereford Times reported that the council was not going take enforcement action to speed up re-development at the site.
Then, the council said enforcement would be “inappropriate” given apparent complexities over insurance issues.
The blaze that ripped through the former River Island and Card Factory stores in October 2010 was one of the biggest ever in the county, but the site has been sealed off since.
The condition of the buildings - branded a “blot” on the city centre - was raised at the full council meeting in July by Cllr Brian Wilcox.
Specific concern was expressed over the scaffolding and boarding at the site.
Then, Cllr Philip Price, cabinet member for infrastructure, said that the scaffolding around the front of the site had an appropriate licence and was safeguarding the façade from collapse.
The façade is to be retained as part of the approved rebuilding scheme.
Officers, said Cllr Price had inspected the site and were satisfied that it was secure with the “historic elements” protected from wind and water.
Members were told that the key to the rebuilding of the property rested with its letting on the commercial market.
Councillors heard, at that time, that the option for enforcement action was open should relevant talks not prove fruitful.