WORK to transform vacant office space in Rougier Street into 47 apartments is underway by York developer Skelwith Group.

Following planning approval earlier this year, contractors have started the first phase soft strip-out of Roman House, removing all non structural elements ready for redevelopment.

Skelwith bought the 35,000 sq ft building from insurance giant Aviva after it became surplus to the insurance company’s office requirements.

Since its acquisition Skelwith has been working with architects Brewster Bye on the redesign.

Paul Ellis, managing director of Skelwith, said: “We are very excited to start work on Roman House.

"The building occupies a very prominent location on Rougier Street, and are plans for the building will dramatically improve the local area, delivering an iconic building for York in the process.

“Since we announced our plans the level of interest we’ve seen from buyers has been overwhelming with enquiries from around the country, we have also seen very high levels of interest locally with the majority of sales to date coming from York residents."

An announcement regarding the main contractors is expected to be made shortly as discussions are ongoing, an announcement will be made shortly.

The development is due to be finished in early 2015.