WORK has started on an ambitious housing redevelopment set to change the face of the Newton Farm area of Hereford.

With The Oval at its heart, the regeneration of its surrounding three-storey residential blocks began last week, with the first properties due to be completed by the summer.

With 194 flats to be demolished and 259 new units set to take their place, the project is one of the most significant housing redevelopments the city has ever seen.

Those new units will include one- and two-bed flats, two-, three- and four-bed houses and one-bed bungalows, with a mixture of Herefordshire Housing rentals and properties to be sold on the open market.

And while some properties will be available this summer, the project is not expected to be completed until winter 2017.

The community has been at the centre of the process for two years, and through a steering group – comprising of councillors, residents and representatives from Newton Farm Community Association – is still in consultation with developers Keepmoat.

A survey found more than 85 percent of residents in favour of tearing down the estate in favour of new homes, despite the flats being structurally sound.

The hope is that a new build will have a “transformational change” on the area according to the project’s community plan.

The plan outlines a strategy to “undo the negative perception of the area”, making it a gateway to the city that encourages people to stay in the area and use local businesses.

The regeneration will also provide a community hub close the to the Oval shops – which are also set for a refurbishment as part of the scheme

A Herefordshire Housing officer has been taken on full-time to oversee the rehousing of former tenants, who, under the community plan, will be able to return as residents of the new estate if they wish to do so.