OUTSTANDING insurance claims that stopped work on a prime site in Hereford city centre for more than two years after it was destroyed by fire have been settled.

Herefordshire Council confirmed this week that the long-running wrangle over re-developing the former River Island store is over.

The council told the Hereford Times: “We can confirm that the owner of the fire damaged building in High Town, Hereford, which was occupied by River Island, has settled outstanding insurance claims and is looking to appoint a contractor to rebuild the property.”

The property will be rebuilt in line with the planning permission granted since the blaze and work is expected to take another year to complete once a contractor is in place.

In March the Hereford Times revealed that the council would not take enforcement action to speed up re-development at the site.

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, despite a restoration project being backed by council planners.

At the time, city centre councillor Mark Hubbard questioned the council’s commitment to moving the work on, saying similar situations would “never be allowed in Oxford Street or the Bullring”.

The council claimed the delay to restoration was related to the complicated insurance for the works and, in such circumstances, enforcement action would be “inappropriate”.

Speculation since the fire has linked River Island to the development on Hereford’s Old Livestock Market site.