LONG-anticipated demolition work is finally progressing well at a Carlisle site that has been considered something of an eyesore for decades.

The Dias Building on Botchergate has stood empty for more than 30 years. Formerly a musical instrument retailer, current owners Persimmon Homes confirmed plans to demolish it in February.

A spokeswoman for Persimmon Homes Lancashire said: “Demolition work on the Dias building site is progressing to schedule and we expect to be completed within the next six weeks, allowing South Henry Street to be re-opened to traffic.

“We would like to thank the local community for their patience while the road closure and diversion are in place to enable the demolition to be carried out safely.”

The demolition works has required a temporary road closure of South Henry Street between April 12 and June 18, with scaffolding and hoarding erected to make the site safe and the demolition will be carried out by GM Demolition on behalf of Persimmon Homes.

The footway will also be narrowed during the works, and the safety of pedestrians and the workers on site will be of paramount importance, with appropriate signage and barriers in place.

Both local authorities - the county and city councils - have been encouraging the current and former owners of the property to develop a plan for the site for several years, with demolition considered the preferred option to enable the site to be redeveloped for the benefit of the local community - and now work has finally begun to bring it down.

The building has had something of a controversial history since it fell into disuse - in July 2019, chiefs at Persimmon were blasted as "morally repugnant" by Castle Councillor Alan McGuckin for failing to maintain it.

It came after it emerged the taxpayer may have to help foot the bill through the Future High Street Fund, a £675m pot of Government initiative to transform town centres.

Then last month, concerns were raised about the whereabouts f a Victorian street sign that forms part of a city conservation area.

Carlisle independent councillor Rob Betton urged for the Victorian cast-iron street sign to be relocated, claiming it was part of the area's heritage - but it had gone missing.

At the time, a spokesman for Persimmon Homes Lancashire and Cumbria said: “We were very disappointed to see that the South Henry Street sign was taken from the building.

“If anyone has any information about its whereabouts – or can provide CCTV footage that might help to identify who removed the sign – we would urge them to report this to the police.”

The permanent future of the site – located on Botchergate near Carlisle city centre – has yet to be determined, although potential options include residential property development.

Additional residential capacity, for vulnerable adults requiring supported living accommodation, students and low-cost housing, are all key factors in the long-term vision for redeveloping this area of the city.

No planning applications have been submitted for the redevelopment of the site to date. Persimmon Homes acquired the property as part of the purchase of another company several years ago.