It’s been a long time since fire engulfed River Island and the Card Factory in Hereford’s High Town, but the years of being hidden behind hoardings and festooned with scaffolding are almost over.

It is a matter of months before the site is fully restored, transformed into a contemporary apartment complex with two shops and offering city centre living to 18 new residents.

There are 10 apartments behind the restored facade and seven more on the East Street side of the site, with a unique cottage and courtyard between the two.

It is a development that became possible only when architect Philip Belchere of Hook Mason produced a historical appraisal and secured the agreement of Historic England that the damage was too serious to warrant any insistence on extensive retention of the original fabric of the buildings.

The site office for the development is in the historic Booth Hall, where the fire was brought to a halt just the other side of the wooden panelling in the hall. 

The construction firm employed by the owners, Elevate Property Group, is city company C J Bayliss.

An initial survey of the site discovered an 11,000-volt cable in the middle which had to be dug around and disabled.

However, the site had other secrets to reveal, the next being the remains of the city’s Saxon ramparts, a discovery that led to another delay as the archaeologists arrived to dig, survey and record their findings. 

Then came the next big challenge, installing the steel framework that would support the new building.

One of the most important elements of the build was retaining the beautiful facade, which is firmly secured on spikes in the brickwork behind.

Some of the few remaining timbers from the original building have been incorporated into the new build.

Designer Jules Dodd is responsible for the interior in the show flat, which is pictured here. They give a taste of what city living in Hereford can look like.