AFTER eight months of waiting, it looks like work is finally about to start to repair major damage to a Grade II-listed building partially destroyed by thieves attempting to steal a cash machine.

Building firm C G Fry has confirmed workers are on site at The Square, Beaminster, ready to rebuild the stone at the side of Chris Chapman Bespoke Kitchens & Furniture.

Severe damage was caused to the building when a tractor was used in a failed ram raid in August 2018.

The building has been surrounded by scaffolding following the incident, which has resulted in the road being diverted onto the car parking spaces at The Square.

C G Fry contracting director Mike Pinney said the firm is ready to ‘crack on.’

“Historic England has agreed a specification and now we’re cracking on,” he said. “With listed buildings, it does take time. You have got to get it right and make sure it’s done properly.”

Residents and business owners in the town, many of whom have previously expressed frustration over a lack of progress, will welcome the news.

Many have questioned the length of time it’s taken for work to start – with some businesses reporting a negative effect on trade.

Historic England and other planning authorities needed to agree on any plans to restore the listed building; this has been cited as the main reason for the delay.

In January, its structural engineer and an inspector visited the site and an appropriate repair scheme was agreed.

According to Historic England, two months later an engineer appointed by the building’s insurers contacted it disagreeing with the advice given by its specialists.

A spokesman for the public body said the overall rebuilding project is ‘a complex one’ and it is ‘glad to see work starting.’

Resident Douglas Beazer says he’s pleased to see work starting; but has some reservations.

“Had this happened in London, or even Dorchester, it would have been done a long time ago. I am very pleased to see work starting as the people of Beaminster deserve better than to have it left like that. It’s been a long time.

“Some traders have been down on business but fortunately we have been able to hold on to them.

“I would urge them to get on with things with great haste.”