Work to reinstate a former 19th century building, which was left a blackened ruin two years ago after a fierce blaze in Sudbury, has begun.
The fire ripped through the three-storey Goldsmith’s Mansion after it started in one of its business units, on the junction of Market Hill and Friars Street, in 2015.
Properties and businesses were destroyed in the blaze, leaving 20 households homeless.
The new building will have a similar style to its original design, with 19th century period features, including arched windows along with a roundel.
Bricks salvaged from the fire will be incorporated into the new structure, while others have been cast from moulds.
The building is owned by the Mattingly family, who have been closely involved in the design process.
“They would like to see a very formal structure reinstated,” said director Phillip Branton, from Hadleigh-based chartered architects Wincer Kievenaar.
The ground floor will be reserved for retail space to provide one or two business units.
“It has been designed so there is flexibility and can be split in two,” said Mr Branton.
The second and third floors will make up six residential homes – four one-bedroom and two two-bedroom flats.
“It will be exciting to see the front of the building go up,” said Mr Branton, who expects the work to take 12 months to complete.
“That’s part of the reason why the contractors have chosen open mesh, so it gives the public the opportunity to see the building work taking place.
“I think everyone is looking forward to seeing the building reinstated.”
The closure of one lane of the B1115 approaching Market Hill, has been heavily criticised by businesses in Friars Street, who have also labelled road signs as confusing.
Janine Hicks, manager of Javelin, which was damaged in the fire, said it could effect Christmas trade.
“I see customers trying to work out how to get into the store and I think if other people were going to come into Sudbury, they would think twice,” she said.
Mrs Hicks added that, although she understood the building work had to be carried out, the timing was an issue.
“On one hand, we know we have to get something done, but the timing of the roadworks is poor,” she said.
Colin Jones, owner of Floors and Snores, described the amount of road signs as over kill.
“There are signs saying roads are closed – it looks like you can’t come up Friars Street,” he said. “They are misleading.”
Sudbury town centre manager and events co-ordinator Ami Birrell had asked for the work to be postponed.
“Emails were sent to Suffolk County Council asking if the building work and road closure could at least be postponed till after Christmas.
“Unfortunately, Jane Storey replied saying that this was not possible, and the work would go ahead as planned.”
Miss Birrell is arranging for clearer signs to be installed to clarify that shops in Friars Street are open as usual and can be accessed via Church Street.